Defeating Discouragement

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Defeating Discouragement

There is a plague sweeping the country today. It’s not the Beijing flu, or cancer, or even the common cold. This outbreak, however, can be just as deadly as the most dreaded disease known to man ­it’s called the epidemic of discouragement.

It’s universal. None of us are immune to discouragement. Everyone you have ever known has been discouraged at one time or another.

It’s recurring. Being discouraged once does not give you an immunity to the disease. You can be discouraged over and over again. In fact, you can even be discouraged by the fact that you are discouraged a lot.

It’s highly contagious. Discouragement spreads by even casual contact. People can become disheartened because you are discouraged. You can be bummed out because other people are discouraged.

Discouragement is to lose courage or hope; it is to become overwhelmed or lose heart. When we are discouraged it’s easy to want to quit–to stop doing the very things God told us to do.

Discouragement says, “What’s the use of trying anymore? Isn’t it time to just give up and make the best of it?” The nation of Israel faced that kind of discouragement.

Text: I Kings 19:1-5 NIV – Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” 3 Elijah was afraid[a] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

•Elijah had a close relationship with God and was used powerfully by Him. Many people witnessed the greatness of God through the prophet.

•Elijah encouraged many people. He helped a widow and her son who were down-and-out and had only enough food for one more meal. Elijah told the widow that God would provide, and He did. Later, when her son died, Elijah asked God to bring him back to life, and God did. This widow’s hope was restored through Elijah.

•Elijah did many other amazing works by the power of God, but the Bible shows that even great people of God can get tripped up by the trials and challenges of living God’s way in a world under the sway of Satan. The story of Elijah’s descent into depression is a classic.

•Not only was Elijah hated and threatened with death by the evil Queen Jezebel, he also felt his work had been in vain and that no one else was supporting God. He felt totally alone, vulnerable and hopeless. Being human like you and me, all this started to get to him.

•Elijah got discouraged and wanted to quit.

We all want to know how to get through what we are going through. Difficult circumstances affect our moods on a daily basis and can get us discouraged if we let them.

Let’s consider the effect that it had on him.

  1. Caused him to exaggerate the negative and underestimate the positive
  2. Drove him into isolation
  3. Caused him to sulk in self pity
  4. Caused him to be irrational
  5. Took him off course with God’s plan for his life

Elijah’s discouragement got so bad it turned into depression.

What is depression? 

Depression is a serious medical condition. Everyone experiences “ups” and “downs” in their life. But for some people the “downs” can outweigh the “ups.” This can cause problems with everyday activities such as eating, sleeping, working, and getting along with friends. If this happens for more than a few weeks, depression may be the reason.

Depression affects a person’s physical health, as well as how he or she feels, thinks, and acts toward others. It brings about a mixture of feelings and thoughts that can cause someone to depart from his or her usual behavior.

Depression is very common — it affects an estimated 19 million American adults every year. Nearly twice as many women (6.5%) as men (3.3%) suffer from depression each year. The good news is that you can be free from it!

You Must QUIT Focusing…

(Discouragement) Can be temporary–or it can destroy our life. The choice is ours. If we refuse to deal with discouragement head-on, we are opening the door for it to completely dominate our life. – Dr. Charles Stanley

What was it that caused Elijah to become discouraged? What made him want to quit? What causes us to do the same thing? WRONG PERSPECTIVE; in other words, we focus on the wrong things.

When you face discouragement, you can do one of two things, and the one you choose will color your perspective. You can look at others to place the blame, or you can look at yourself to discover your opportunities. The choice is yours. – John Maxwell

  1. The Pain of Yesterday

Jeremiah 6:14 NIV – They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. Peace, Peace, they say, when there is no peace.”

Ecclesiastes 7:10 NIV Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions.

We make the same mistake. Our perspective can sometimes be wrong; instead of looking forward, we look back at the good old days. Then rather than having faith to move forward, we too find ourselves becoming discouraged and stuck in the past.

God doesn’t want us to just “live in the past”. It’s not good to think how much better it used to be in days gone by because our perspective is wrong.

A WRONG PERSPECTIVE FOCUSES ON THE PAST WITH NO HOPE FOR THE FUTURE. A wrong perspective seeks to resurrect the good old days instead of looking ahead for even greater days. The church of Jesus Christ is not call to move backward or retreat; we’re to move forward with the power of the Holy Spirit!

2. The Pressures of Tomorrow

Matthew 6:34 NIV – “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

4 Principles that will Defeat your Discouragement

  1. Protect Your Mind

Dr. Hans Selye researched and popularized a tiny membrane in the back of our head known as the RAS: Reticular Activity System. Primary function – it moves in the direction of your dominant thought at that moment. When we become preoccupied with a thought, we want to act on it.

Ephesians 4:23 AMP – And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind (having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude)

The spirit of your mind is referring to a mood of mind or frame of mind. It is our responsibility to be constantly renewed and get ourselves out of the funk we are in.

What we think determines, to a large degree, how we feel

Proverbs 23:7 NKJV – For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

Spiritual and Positive forces will always supersede negative forces. Quit negative thinking and self talk.

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.

Guard You Emotions: Your mind is a computer – it spits out the data you feed it

Proverbs 4:23 NIV – Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

2. Pray to God

I Kings 19:9-10 NIV – 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

Billy Graham said, “The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.’ 

“The less I pray, the harder it gets; the more I pray, the better it goes.” Luther

In the jungles of Africa, a man was being pursued by a roaring, hungry lion. Feeling the beast’s hot breath on his neck, and knowing his time was short, he broke out into prayer as he ran like crazy, “O, Lord, please make this lion a Christian. Please make him a Christian!” Within seconds, the frightened man noticed that the lion had stopped chasing him. When he looked behind him, he found the lion kneeling and moving his lips in obvious prayer. Greatly relieved at this turn of events, he got close enough to the lion to hear him pray, “And bless, Oh Lord, this food which I am about to receive.”

John 16:23-24 NIV – In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

Spiritual comfort comes through Prayer. Shut off from the world and have a time of Centered prayer.

Psalm 43:5 ESV – Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Salvation in this verse does not mean eternal salvation. It means deliverance, or the sense of helping someone out of their difficulty.  This is what God does during times of depression and difficulty. He will deliver you. You have to hope in Him, and decide that God can help you.

Philippians 4:6 NIV –  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 

Prayer can change ANYTHING. Prayer can change EVERYTHING

Psalm 5:3 NIV – In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;  in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

3. Understand the Power of your Praise

I don’t know about you, but it’s easy for me to forget God when things are tough. I need to be reminded that He is always there for me. How do you remember the Lord?

This is where we begin to focus on the securities of God, not our insecurities. Its expressing my affection to God and focusing my attention on God

Psalm 43:4 ESV – Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.

•When you are feeling no joy, go to God, who will release to you His joy through worship. Music has an amazing power on people who are sick and especially on people who are depressed. The Bible has examples of Saul going to David and asking him to play the harp. It soothed Saul’s soul. Worship will soothe your soul as well. (Example: Tricia in hospital)

•I have found that many times, when I feel discouraged, when I can’t go on, worship lifts me up. Turn on your iPod  and just start to sing and worship. I visualize the hope that I have in Christ when I listen or sing praises to Him.

Isaiah 61:3 NKJV –  To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

“Worship isn’t crawling though a small hole to some theological wonderland. It is falling back upon God and finding that He is everywhere and anywhere you can fall.”

We take coffee breaks, rest breaks, and lunch breaks. Why not take a Praise Break! God answer for depression is PRAISE! It’s one antidepressant we all need. 

Praise takes our minds off our situation and focuses them on God. It accepts that God can take all the bad stuff of life and make something beautiful out of it.

Acts 16:25-26 NIV – About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

•Rather than sulking in despair, Paul and Silas got themselves moving in the direction of their faith through Praise and Worship. We can sing our way out of despair, we can smile our way of that funk, We can worship our way out of our heaviness!

Prayer opens the door for God’s power to move into our lives. But the prayer of praise releases more of God’s power than any other form of petition. The Psalmist wrote, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabits the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3 KJV). God actually dwells, inhabits, and resides in our praise. God’s power and presence is near when we praise him. When we praise God for the present situation, God’s power is unleashed.

What’s Next

4. Get Busy with God’s Plan for your Life

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing. Van Gogh

John 6:27 NIV – Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

God gave Elijah something to do

I Kings 19:15-16 NIV – 15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.

•He had to shed tears of self pity. Was time to get back to work for God.

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

Many people succumb to this infamous tool of Satan. Maybe you feel its effect now. You can rise above discouragement. Believe that the best is yet to come. Hold on to your dream with a bull-dog tenacity and perseverance that refuses to let go.

3 Things To Remember and 3 Things To Do in 2016

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3 Things To Remember and 3 Things To Do in 2016

3 Things To Remember

(Colossians 1:28-29 NLT) “So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.”

1. Help People find Jesus. 

(John 9:17, 25 NIV) “Finally they turned again to the blind man, ‘What have you to say about him?’ He replied, ‘Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!’” 

(1 Corinthians 9:22 LB) “…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.”

•The church is the primary place where people come to faith in Christ and begin to live as Christians. Lost people matter to God & therefore ought to matter to the church.

•65 Fresh Starts/salvations and 24 water baptisms in 2015

(Luke 14:23 LB) “Go out into the country…and urge anyone you find to come in, so that My house will be full.”

•Be a Bringer! Who can you bring with you in 2016

2. Help People find relationships.
(James 5:16 NIV) “
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” 

(Romans 12:5 NLT) “…Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.”

•GraceTown Life Groups Starting 3 week in January

3. Help People Grow Spiritually. 

(Ephesians 4:11-13 NLT) “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” 

(2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT) “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

•God’s Word is the the primary catalyst for transformation and spiritual growth. You will never grow up as fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ on a diet of spiritual twinkies.

“The Scriptures were not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives”

Knowing God’s Word is the Pathway to Knowing God. You will never be more spiritual than you are scriptural!

•Upcoming spiritual growth class – The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster starting next Sunday with Teacher Steve Light 8am & 9am in Kidstown Classroom.

3 Things To Do

1. Pray.

(Matthew 9:37-38 NIV) “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”

(Ephesians 1:17-18 NIV) I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.

•Prayer is the highest order of business. For it links a powerless human to the creative force of God’s sovereign power!

“When we work, we work; but when we pray, God works.”- Max Lucado

•If you and I are too busy to Pray, we give our spiritual life a funeral! Prayer is a necessity, not an option!

•Make a commitment of 10-15 minutes to start your day each morning with prayer and devotion to God. 

•Churchwide Call To Prayer and Fasting for 7 Days starting January 11-18 – we will spend 7 days focused and seeking after God

One prayer can change ANYTHING. one prayer can change EVERYTHING

2. Serve.

(Ephesians 2:10 NIV) “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The Big Idea: In the world, greatness is determined by how many people SERVE YOU; but, in God’s kingdom, greatness is determined by how many people YOU SERVE.

(Galatians 6:4 MSG) “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.”

“This is a story about 4 people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did. Somebody got angry with that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody would not do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.”

“Hillsong Church is not built on the gifts and talents of a few, but on the sacrifice of many.” Brian Houston

•Use your gifts, talents, and abilities to serve and be a part of the Dream Team at GraceTown

3. Give.

(Luke 18:29-30 GW) “I guarantee this. Anyone who gives up anything for the kingdom of God will certainly receive many times more in this life and will receive eternal life in the next world to come.”

(Mark 8:35 LB) “If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for My sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live.”

THE KEY TO A Godward LIFE IS A HEART OF GENEROSITY.

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.

•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.

•Challenge you to do 3 things:

  1. Be a Tither – 10% of your income to be returned back to God, 
  2. Give offerings (whatever you decide) 
  3. Give to our future (building fund) 

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

Go togracetownchurch.com/give

How to Survive the End of the World Part 3

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How To Survive the End of the World Part 3

Introduction: 

The world we currently live in has changed whether we like it or not. In JRR Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, Galadriel, the Elf queen says about the change happening in middle earth; “The world has changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost…

Yes the world has changed. We are living in an increasingly post christian culture. America was once a christian nation whose values were aligned with judeo christian values and ethics. Charles Dickens penned this opening statement in his classic, A Tale of Two Cities;

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…

The World around us has drastically changed over the past 40 years or so. In our increasingly post christian culture, the influences and values shaping emerging generations are no longer aligned with Christianity.

Tolerance? Tolerance may be a virtue and buzz word in todays culture but its not extended to Christianity.

•we are driven from public life

•denied 1st amendment rights

•actively discriminated against for our beliefs

We live in a quickly changing world. You might feel safe in the church world you and I live in, but step outside into the real world and things aren’t quite the same anymore.

So How should we live in this world in the last days?  The Call is to Live Biblically. To live as Christ lived.

1 John 2:6 LB  “Anyone who says he’s a Christian should live as Christ did.”

I Peter 2:21 NIV To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”    WWJD?

What does it mean to be a Christian?

  1. Jesus explained what it meant to be a Christian in Matthew 16:24 (NLT). He said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me.” 
    1. Put aside your selfish ambition – The desires we naturally have are in opposition to that which God desires (Gal. 5:16-17). But the Holy Spirit makes us a new person (2 Cor. 5:17) and gives us new desires (Rom. 8:9).
    2. Shoulder (Carry) your cross – The cross as a vivid pic that the disciples fully understood. To take up your cross meant to face death spiritually & possibly physically. Our sinful way of life dies (Rom. 6:6, Gal. 5:24) and Christ’s new life lives in us (Gal. 2:20). And for some, following Christ would cost them their lives physically.
      1. To sacrifice is to give up something for the sake of something else that is much better.
      2. What is my cross? The place of our greatest pain

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places. Ernest Hemingway

  1. Follow me – To be a Christian, we must follow Christ. We must act the way he acted. We must speak the way he spoke. We must love the way he loved.
    1. Embrace God’s will no matter what the cost

I love Jesus, but sometimes “Christians” frustrate me. Why? They fight & argue about the dumbest things. Too judgmental, act holier than thou, incredibly condescending.

1. With Humility 

Humility – Modest opinion of one’s own importance or rank. To lower oneself; lowly; abasing yourself, “down to earth”.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. . . . Humble people are so focused on serving others, they don’t think of themselves.” – Rick Warren

Humility – The discipline of putting others ahead of self -the choice to value others above self – its a matter of faith

“Humility is self-forgetfulness.” – C.S. Lewis

Matt. 5:3 NLT “God blesses those who realize their need for him…” 

It recognizes how inadequate we are by ourselves.

James 4:10 NIV “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up”. 

People who are not humble think they know everything, no one can correct them, and they believe they have the answers to everything

Matt. 11:29 NIV “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

2. With Simplicity 

Freedom from complexity. We live mismanaged lifestyles

Luke 12:15 NIV “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

•We have become slaves to our belongings – St Francis of Assisi insisted that true freedom lies in the abundance of life, not the abundance of possessions. Many times those possessions that we have acquired exercise power over us.

Matt. 16:26 NLT “How do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

Living simply means that we carefully examine what it means to fully live. How? By focusing our efforts on things that are true, beautiful, and essential. Like Faith, Family, Healthy, Friends, and our Church, our Community

Psalms 131:1-2 Amp Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in matters too great or in things too wonderful for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me [ceased from fretting].

•’I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on 3 elements: noise, hurry, crowds… Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.”

•”The Value of our western culture demands us to be busy…”

Eccl. 7:29 – “God made man simple: man’s complex problems are of his own devising”

“To much clutter in your mind leaves insufficient room for devotion to Christ” Remember – You NO to others will soon translate into a YES for God!

3. With Possibility (Faith)

Potentiality for favorable or interesting results.

Faith is… To have trust or assurance, confidence, conviction, belief, reliance in what God says. Trust that produces actions.

Matt. 19:26 NLT With God everything is possible.”

Mark 9:23 NIV “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

•Believing when I donʼt see it. 

(Hebrews 11:1)  “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and 

certain of what we do not see.” 

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

•Obeying when I donʼt understand it. 

(Hebrews 11:7 NLT)  “It was by faith that Noah built an ark to save 

his family from the flood.  He obeyed God, who warned him about 

something that had never happened before.” 

•Persisting when I donʼt feel like it. 

(Hebrews 11:27)  “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the kingʼs 

anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” 

“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins.  Not through strength, but through persistence.”- Unknown

Trusting if I donʼt get it. 

(Hebrews 11:39-40)  “They were all commended for their faith yet 

none of them received what had been promised.  God had planned 

something better…”

”Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe” –Augustine

•The law of faith is the greatest law in the Word of God. Believe and ye shall receive.

• “I can get more out of God by believing Him for one minute than I can by shouting at Him all night.”- Smith Wigglesworth

4. With Charity (Love)

(I Cor. 13:1) “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge…but have not love, I am nothing.”

•The more spiritual you become, the more love you will show to others.

Matt 5:44 The Message “I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer.”

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Luke. 6:37 NIV“Do not judge, and you’ll not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

“Take away love and the earth is a tomb.” – Robert Browning

•Love takes no account of the evil done to it. Love does not filter its current emotional state through the screen of past hurts and offenses. Instead, it shows the grace and forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ who loved us while we were yet sinners, even suffering the shame of the cross

Love is ever ready to believe the best of every person. Natural human love requires a person to prove themselves before love is given. However, Christ-like love offers itself to those who are both lovable and unlovable. Instead of assuming the worst, it tirelessly looks for the best in others. True love hopes all things and lives with an expectant faith towards others.

(1 Corinthians 14:1 LB) “Make love your greatest aim…”

How?

•Accept others unconditionally.

(Romans 15:7 NIV) “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted

you, in order to bring praise to God.”

“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and deserted by everybody.” – Mother Teresa

•Encourage others continually.

(1 Corinthians 13:7 LB) “If you love someone…you will always believe

in him, and always expect the best of him…”

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” – Booker T. Washington

•Serve people cheerfully.

(1 Peter 4:10 NIV) “Each one should use whatever gift he has received

to serve others…”

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.” – Charles Dickens 

•Forgive others freely.

(Colossians 3:13 NIV) “Bear with each other and forgive whatever

grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

“When you forgive someone, you set a prisoner free… and then you find that the prisoner was you.”

5. With Priority 

Priority – Something given special attention

Luke 12:30-31 NLT These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

“If you don’t live by priorities, you’ll live by pressures. Either you determine what’s important in life or other people will determine it for you.” – Rick Warren

Matt. 10:39 The Message “If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.”

What are your priorities? 

Relationship with God (Church, Prayer, Worship, devotions, God’s Word, telling others, giving) & Your Family (Time)

I HAVE DECIDED:

To follow the example set by Christ.

(1 Corinthians 11:1) Follow my example, as I follow the example of

Christ.

(1 John 2:4 TLB) Someone may say, “I am a Christian; I am on my

way to heaven; I belong to Christ.” But if he doesn’t do what Christ

tells him to, he is a liar.

To declare my commitment publicly.

(Matthew 10:32-33) “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will

also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever

disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”

Here’s what you need to know before the End of the World

1. God loves us and does not want us to perish.

John 3:16,17 — For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

1 Timothy 2:4 — [God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2. All people have sinned. Sin causes separation from God.

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

James 2:10 — For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

3. Heaven is a free gift. You cannot earn or deserve heaven.

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

Ephesians 2:8,9 — For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.

4. We receive God’s forgiveness through faith, by trusting in Christ.

John 1:12 — But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe in His name.

Romans 10:9,10 — …if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

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.

Because Knowing God Changes Everything Part 2

25407_j_knowing-god-changes-everything

Because Knowing God Changes Everything Part 2

In a world created by God, sustained by God, and renewed by God, nothing is more important than knowing God

J.I. Packer said: “What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment, than anything else? Knowledge of God.”

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

God wants us to know Him to lead us to a higher place of worship, a greater level of faith, wisdom to act wisely, and a deeper level of commitment

Jeremiah 24:7 NIV  I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

Jonathan Edwards wrote, “Seek not to grow in Knowledge chiefly for the sake of its applause, and to enable you to dispute with others; but seek it for the benefit of your souls.”

“Nothing can be rightly known, if God be not known; nor is any study well managed, nor to any great purpose, if God is not studied. We know little of the creature, till we know it as it stands related to the Creator…”~Richard Baxter

OUR Knowledge OF GOD Comes From the WORD OF GOD 

John 5:39 ESV-   You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,

Mark Twain said, “It ain’t the those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”

All 66 Books, 1,189 Chapters, 31,273 verses  – is God Breathed

John 8:31-32 ESV – So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

“People do not reject the Bible because it contradicts itself but because it contradicts them.” 

John 1:1-5 ESV – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John Calvin said, “We owe to the scripture the same reverence which we owe God bc it proceeded from Him alone…

In our pursuit of seeking God, we must become interested in the Word of God.

“If we are not interested in the Word of God, can we really be interested in God?” ~Robert Godfrey 

The Result

•Knowing God will transform our nature and character 

 II Corinthians 3:18 (amp) – “And all of us, as with unveiled face, (because we) continued to behold (in the word of God) as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor & from one degree of glory to another; (for this comes) from the Lord (Who is) the Spirit.”

a. Knowing God  means to Seek Him – To know God means to constantly be searching Him out in His Word.  The word “behold” in t his passage means “to continually explore and look into.”

b. Knowing him produces Change

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

Be Assured 

•(Hebrews 10:22)  “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…”

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

1. God is there. 

  •(Psalm 139:7-8 “Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” 

•(Hebrews 13:5)  “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

•(Hebrews 4:13 LB) “He knows about everyone, everywhere. Everything about us is bare and wide open to the all-seeing eyes of our living God; nothing can be hidden from Him…” 

2. God is never late. 

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

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

 (Acts 16:25-26)  “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.  Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybodyʼs chains came loose.” 

3. God knows best. 

•(Hebrews 11:39-40)  “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.  God had planned something better…” 

 (Isaiah 55:8-9 LB)  “This plan of mine is not what you would work out, neither are my thoughts the same as yours!  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than yours, and my thoughts than yours.” 

4. God cares. 

•(James 5:11 Message)  “Youʼve heard, of course, of Jobʼs staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.”

Getting Our Attention

Jim Bakker, the televangelist who built the huge PTL empire spent 5 years in prison for mail fraud and for bilking his followers out of millions of dollars. In his book called, I Was Wrong, he admits that his whole view of God was faulty. As he recounts his spiritual journey behind bars, he finally comes to the conclusion that God sent him to prison for a very specific purpose. He had become so concerned with building a name for himself that he somewhere along the way forgot all about God. According to Bakker, God sent him to prison so that he could get to know God for who He really is. It’s as simple as that.

If knowing God is that important, I wonder what He’ll have to do to get our attention? Our biggest problem is not that God isn’t speaking, it’s that we’re so busy we can’t — or won’t — slow down long enough to hear His voice. Psalm 46:10 urges us to “Be still and know that I am God.”

What then should we do? Hosea 6:3 challenges us to “…press on to acknowledge the Lord.” To press on means to move toward the goal with undiminished vigor. It means to set your focus on knowing our Knowable God ­ and letting nothing get in your way. Do you have a passion and vigor for God this morning? 

Tony Evans uses a great illustration: “I can’t fully explain what it means to know God. I can use the terms, but it’s like defining a kiss. Webster calls a kiss ‘a caress with the lips; a gentle touch or contact.’ But anyone who has kissed someone knows that a kiss is really much more than that. You can’t explain it, but Lord have mercy, it’s good when you get it! I can’t fully explain what getting to know God feels like, but I know that you will like it when it happens. (Our God is Awesome, p. 34)

Friends, you will never understand God until you begin to know Him personally. I can’t define it fully, but when you encounter God Almighty, your life will never be the same again. Which is why Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” He is good ­and He’s good all the time, but you’ll never know until you taste Him for yourself!

My Prayer for you

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer of Commitment

I’d like you to stand this morning and we’re going to pray a prayer together. This prayer originally appeared in A.W. Tozer’s book called, “The Knowledge of the Holy.”

“O majesty unspeakable, my soul desires to behold Thee. I cry to Thee from the dust. Yet when I inquire after Thy name it is secret. Thou art hidden in the light which no man can approach unto. What Thou art cannot be thought or uttered, for Thy glory is beyond comprehension.

Still, prophet and psalmist, apostle and saint have encouraged me to believe that I may in some measure know Thee. Therefore, I pray, whatever of Thyself Thou hast been pleased to disclose, help me to search out as treasure more precious than fine gold: for with Thee shall I live when the stars of the twilight are no more and the heavens have vanished away and only Thou remainest. Amen.”

Closer: How Should We Worship?

Closer-Full Screen

Closer: How Should We Worship? 

Psalm 100:1-4 NIV – Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his[a]; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name

Luke 19:37-40 ESV37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

What is worship?

Worship means to “attribute worth to an object”. Worship is not defined in the Bible but its meaning can be determined from the terms employed and the context of the passages. In the New Testament the most common word is ‘proskuneo’ which means to revere and is from two Greek words meaning ‘kiss towards’. Another word often used – ‘sebomai’ – is derived from a word meaning fear or revere.

John 4:23-24 NIV – Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

It doesn’t say we can worship God anyway we want, but we “must worship Him in spirit and in truth”. The word “must” makes it absolute. There is no other way we can worship God and be acceptable to Him. The word “must”, according to Webster, expresses “an obligation, a requirement, a necessity, a certainty, and something that must be done”. When “must” is used it means that it is not optional.

Since God is the object of our worship, He and He alone has the right to determine how we are to worship Him.

Jeremiah 10:23 NIV , Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.

We are not granted the option of directing our own ways in religion. God is the One who we look to for guidance and direction in our lives. The worship God has prescribed is the only way we can be pleasing to Him in this life

example: “You worship God your way, I will worship God my way” – There is NO my way. Only God’s Way

•Worshiping “in spirit” means that you mean it; that you’re worshiping inside out, not just going through the motions.

•Worshiping “in truth” means that you’re worshiping the true God and not some idol you’ve created. And it means you’re being truthful with your words and thoughts that you bring to worship; you’re not trying to put on a religious act to impress someone.

Throughout history, Christians have agreed that several key elements are important in worship:

1) Praise. Giving honor and glory to God with words, songs or art.

2) Confession. Worship means acknowledging who God is (holy and good) and who we are (not so holy and not so good) in relation to him. This means admitting and confessing our sin, and accepting God’s forgiveness.

3) Prayer. In worship, we speak directly to God about what’s on our minds (our needs and the needs of others) and what’s on God’s mind (his desire for love and justice and redemption in the world).

4) Hearing God’s Word. This means reading the Scripture. It also means listening for what God is saying to you through the music, the sermon and everything that happens in worship.

5) Remembering Christ’s sacrifice. This is most clearly done by taking Communion. Thinking about how God saved us from sin is at the very center of our worship.

6) Responding to God’s love. Worship doesn’t end when the service is over. Worship means we leave the service so aware of God’s greatness that we find ways to obey and honor and serve him throughout the week.

How Should We Worship?

Remember: We Must Have a Theocentric View of Worship

Worship is not about us! We are not at the center of worship with our styles, preferences, song choices, etc… It’s not about what we want and what we can get.  Worship is about GOD.

We must be careful that we do not exclude certain forms of worship simply because we are uncomfortable with them.  Rather, we should seek to understand why we are uncomfortable & make adjustments that will challenge our comfort zone

Psalm 103:1 ESV – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me,  bless his holy name!

Halel – (root for Hallelujah) to rave, boast, to enjoy, celebrate. to audibly praise the Lord, to be clamorously foolish

Psalm 22:26 NIV The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him—may your hearts live forever!

Psalm 113:1 ESV – Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord!

Yadah – means to worship with raised hands, to throw out the hands. Being active not passive

Psalm 63:4 ESV  So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands

Psalm 134:2 ESV – Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!

Barak – to bless by kneeling or bowing in a worshipful attitude and declare God as our total source of blessing, prosperity, power, strength, and victory. (an expectation to receive that blessing from God)

Psalm 96:5 ESV – Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

I Chronicles 29:20 ESV– Then David said to all the assembly, “Bless the Lord your God.” And all the assembly blessed the Lord, the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and paid homage to the Lord and to the king.

Zamar – making music to God with strings.

Psalm 92:1 NIV – “It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High.”

Psalm 33:1-2 ESV – Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.2 Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!

Shabach – to address in a loud tone, to shout unto the Lord. A loud vocal expression of Victory, crying out to God in a loud praise.

Psalm 35:27 ESV – Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!

Psalm 47:1 ESV – Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

Tehillah – exuberant singing. Throughout scriptures we are to celebrate audibly and we can do that by singing. Whether you have a voice of an angel or a bullfrog – SING!

Psalm 34:1 NIV “I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”

Psalm 30:4 ESV – Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name

One Result of Praise & Worship To God

1. Our Spiritual Enemies (problems) are Silenced

Psalms 8:1-2 NKJV – O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your  name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens! 2  Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

Silence – To cause to fail, to put down, to take away. When we Worship God we cause the enemy to fail!

•3 Different Armies had gathered against Judah and Jehoshaphat was faced with insurmountable odds . He receives prophetic strategy from a 14 yr old Musician / Worship Leader

2 Chronicles 20:21-22 ESV  And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,“Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.

God’s Mercy is in the destruction of our spiritual enemies (Problems)

Psalms 143:12 ESV – And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.

Your Praise To God changes your Position from being under problems to being over them

I Peter 2:1-5, 9 NIV – Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Closer: What Worship is All About

Closer-Full Screen

Closer: What Worship is All About

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. Galileo

Worship is a broad term. Some have said that it defies explanation.

Merriam-Webster defines worship as, “to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power” or “to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion” following up with “to perform or take part in worship or an act of worship.”

Three thesaurus entries for worship include: revere, adore and love.

Rick Warren in The Purpose-Driven Life says, “Anything you do that brings pleasure to God is an act of worship.”

Ralph Martin states, “Worship is the dramatic celebration of God in his supreme worth in such a manner that his worthiness becomes the norm and inspiration of human living.”

Psalm 100:1-4 NIV – Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his[a]; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name

We Must Have a Theocentric View of Worship

Worship is not about us! We are not at the center of worship with our styles, preferences, song choices, etc… It’s not about what we want and what we can get.  Worship is about GOD.

“God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me specifically into the story, and He put us in specifically with the sunsets in the rainstorms as though to say, “Enjoy your place in My story, the very beauty of it means it’s not about you, and in time that will give you comfort.” Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life

Psalms 115:1 NIV – Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness

Even when we don’t mean to make it about ourselves, we often do. 2 reasons:

  1. By nature, we are inwardly focused
  2. We’ve never been taught any differently. We are being impeded by the accepted thinking of our day.

Until we understand that Worship was created by God and for God, Worship is never going to make sense.

Revelation 4:11 NIV – “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.

When you walk into a worship service, it’s not about your entertainment. Everything we do at here is toward the singular goal of helping you get outside of yourself and focus completely on God and His Greatness.

When Boston sang “More than a feeling”, back in 1976, they weren’t talking about worship, BUT the truth applies.

We tend to make worship about us and how we feel. We are always looking for a warm fuzzy “feeling”. Of course, God does want us to sense His presence but He wants us to Trust Him more.

•If we measure our worship solely in terms of how we feel, we’ve missed the boat.

•If we approach worship with the attitude, “God, what do you have for me?” You’re always going to walk away empty.

The Revelation of Who God is

Worship is our response to who God is and what He has done!

Psalm 95:1-7 ESV – Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 2  Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! 3  For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4  In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. 5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 6  Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! 7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

1. We Worship God because He is Worthy

I Chronicles 16:24-25 ESV – For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be feared above all gods. 26 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens.

Revelation 4:9-11 ESV – And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,11  “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

2. We Worship God for What He has Done

Isaiah 25:1 NIV – Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.

Psalm 107:8 ESV – Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!

3. We Worship God for His Forgiveness, Healing, and Salvation

Psalm 103:1-12 ESV – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3  who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,4  who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5  who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6  The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. 7  He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. 8  The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9  He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

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

4. We Worship God because He is Sovereign 

The Sovereignty of God simply means that God has a specific plan for this world and for your life and He is in perfect control of that plan.

Isaiah 46:10-11 ESV – declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ 11 calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

“Our duty is found in the revealed will of God in the Scriptures. Our trust must be in the sovereign will of God as He works in the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives for our good and His glory.”

I Chronicles 29:11 ESV Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.

What Happens When We Worship?

1. We Delight in God and God Delights in Us

Psalm 27:4 ESV – One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire[a] in his temple.

Our Worship brings Joy and Delight to God’s Heart

Zephaniah 3:17 ESV – The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Result Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

2. We Draw Near to God and God Draws Near to Us

Hebrews 10:19-22 ESV Therefore, brothers,[a] since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

When we worship God He meets with us – He ministers to us, He strengthens our faith, He intensifies His presence, He refreshes us.

“Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” —Saint Augustine

James 4:8 ESV-  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

3. Worship to God Changes us

2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV – And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,[a] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Whatever we worship we ultimately will end up serving. The more we worship God the more our commitment increases and the more we become like Him.

Romans 12:1-2 ESV – I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 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.

4. Our Spiritual Enemies & Circumstances Flee

3 Different Armies had gathered against Judah and Jehoshaphat was faced with insurmountable odds . He receives prophetic strategy from a 14 yr old Musician / Worship Leader

2 Chronicles 20:21-22 ESV  And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,“Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.

God’s Mercy is in the destruction of our spiritual enemies

Psalms 143:12 ESV – And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.

Ending: Worship Check Up

God’s Heart is touched by passion and commitment in Worship.

(God is talking about half hearted hypocritical Worship)

Isaiah 29:13 NIV – The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught

God doesn’t want part of you, He wants ALL of YOU

Mark 12:30 ESV – And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

Worship is expressing my Affection to God

Worship is focusing my Attention on God

Worship is using my Abilities for God

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.

RESET: Making your Spiritual Life a Priority

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RESET: Making your Spiritual Life a Priority

The story is told of a young boy who asked his father what his New Year’s resolution was; and, his father told him he was going to do everything possible to make his mother happy in the coming year. The boy, then, asked his mother what her New Year’s resolution was; and, she replied: “To do everything possible to ensure that his father kept his resolution!”

Is your life locked up? Are you on system overload? Panic sets in when our phones, computers, iPods lock up. We call tech support and often it’s simply a matter of a RESET. At different times, many of us take an honest look inside and realize we need our own RESET. How many resolutions and promises do we make that we don’t end up keeping? How can this time be different?

Reset – to move (something) back to an original place or position : to put (a broken bone) back in the correct position for healing; To set again, differently; to press a special button or to make changes so that a machine will work again or work in a different way

Mark 12:30 ESV And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

Revelation 3:15-16 ESV ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.You are as close to God as you chose to be! Spiritual growth happens by choice 

Critical Question

1 Timothy 4:7 ESV – Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness (Phillips) “Take the time and the trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit.”

3 John 1:2 ESV – Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

What is Unhealthy in your life? Clean up your Spiritual Diet

• In a health screening, the Dr. will run tests & look for symptoms that might indicate ill health.

• Symptoms are red flags or warning signs that a part of your body is not functioning optimally.

• Spotting these symptoms early and making appropriated changes in diet & lifestyle can prevent a minor ailment from ballooning into a serious problem.

Spiritual growth is not determined how you act in church but how you respond to life.

•Hot – You are growing.

(2 Thessalonians 1:3 ESV) We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers,[a] as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing

‎”The soul’s deepest thirst is for God Himself, who has made us so that we can never be satisfied without Him.” FF Bruce

•Cold – You do not know God yet.   

(2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV) In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God

•Lukewarm – You are drifting.

(Hebrews 2:1 ESV) Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.

How to Get There

•Grow yourself daily. 

The Secret to your spiritual success is hidden in the daily routine

Proverbs 23:12 ESV Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.

Jeremiah 29:13-14 ESV “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile

  1. Make Worship a Priority                                                                                                                                                                            •Psalm 100:4 ESV – Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!Give thanks to him; bless his name!                                                                           •Psalm 103:1 ESV – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!     
    1. Everybody worships something. It is the response of what you value most.
    2. In every heart there is an altar and a throne. Follow the trail of your time, your affection, your energy, your money, your loyalty, your thoughts, dreams & ambitions, & your priorities. You will find who or what is sitting on the throne of your heart!
    3. •John 4:23 ESV – But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
    4. Worship is from our heart – Don’t WAR over Worship Styles! It’s about GOD not music style
      1. Expressing my affection to God – Praise
      2. Focusing my attention on God – Prayer & meditation
      3. Using my abilities for God – Serving
      4. Tozer said, without worship, we go about miserable
  1. Value God’s Word 
    1. Hebrews 4:12 ESV For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
    2. The Bible is authoritive not bc it is a manuel for living, but bc it reveals to us JESUS who has the power to CUT through all our BOLONEY.
      1. “The Scriptures were not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives”
    3. Joshua 1:8 ESV – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success
    4. Psalm 119:11 ESV – “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

“People do not reject the Bible because it contradicts itself but because it contradicts them.”

    1. Mark Twain said, “It ain’t the those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”

The Bible is not just a book; it is a God breathed, God indwelt, God inspired message. We are to believe what the Bible says, not what we think it says of what someone else says that it says.

It will outlast heaven & earth (Matt. 24:35)

In our pursuit of seeking God, we must become interested in the Word of God.

John Calvin said, “We owe to the scripture the same reverence which we owe God bc it proceeded from Him alone…

Knowing God’s Word is the Pathway to Knowing God   

John 5:39 ESV-   You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,

Decide to start a Daily Bible Reading plan!

Spending time with God should be a lifelong habit, not a passing fancy. Research shows you need to do something for about six weeks straight to build a habit. Make God’s Word part of your life today — and for the rest of your life.

3. Be Faithful in Giving

•Over 800 verses in the Bible about the subject of Money. It’s addressed more than heaven and hell. 16 of 38 stories Jesus told were about money and man.

“Your standard of giving reflects your standard of living”

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.

•Faithfulness in Giving 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, ESV The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully[a] will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency[b] in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work
  • We Put God first by GIVING Him the first of everything

Leviticus 27:30 ESV “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.

  1. Tithe – means returning a tenth (10%) to the Lord- It’s God’s idea.

(Malachi 3:8-12 NIV)  Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer[a] for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

•Tithe puts us all on the same level of sacrifice. It is worship to God. It must be returned to God. Returning not Giving.

  1. Offerings – Anything you decide to Give                                                                                                                                                             2 Cor. 9:7 ESV – Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
  1. Alms – Giving to the Poor and less fortunate                                                                                                                                      Matthew 6:3-4 ESV – But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you

4. Make Prayer a Priority

PRAYER IS COMMUNICATING WITH GOD.

Psalm 5:1-3  ESV – Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning.2 Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. 3  O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you[a] and watch

TALK TO GOD

  1. ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT MATTERS TO YOU.

Philippians 4:6  ESV – do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

1 Peter 5:7 ESV –  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

2. CONTINUTALLY.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  ESV Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Pray, Until, Something, Happens

1 Samuel 1:12-13  ESV As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman.

3. AND LISTEN FOR HIS RESPONSE.

1 Kings 19:12-13  ESV -And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.[a] 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

John 10:27 ESV My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Release your faith with absolute assurance in God’s Ability

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

•The power in prayer is not the person praying BUT God who is hearing.

Remember – Don’t forget to pray today because God didn’t forget to wake you up this morning

Ordinary Love

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Ordinary Love

Come Christians tend to be quite critical & judgmental of anything & everything that’s not like them.

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Mother Teresa

We can be embarrassed with some segments of christianity but we don’t have to be embarrassed about Jesus.

Ghandi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Bono once said, “Christians are hard to tolerate; I don’t know how Jesus does it.”

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

The Entire Old Testament in 3 verses – The New Commandment

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

“Every Christian would agree that a man’s spiritual health is exactly proportional to his love for God.” – C.S. Lewis

•The Pharisees code of morality consisted of countless minute rules and regulations. Jesus summed up all moral obligations in the word LOVE, expressed in the two fold direction of God and Neighbor.

•The quotation in verse 37 is from the Jewish Shema (Deut.6:4-5) which all Jewish people repeated twice daily. The Shema not only defines the person of God (being One) in terms of His unity, but also defines the nature of the relationship that God’s people are to have with Him and with one another.

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

God Loves us Unconditionally

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

•God doesn’t love us for what we do, but He loves us because of who he is.
•man bases love on performance….If you….I will
•God loves us for what He finds in Himself – LOVE.
•No matter what you do – God cannot stop loving you.

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

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

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

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

Biblical Definition of The Four Loves

Storge – Natural Love

Romans 12:10 NIV – Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

2. Phileo – Relational Love

Matthew 10:37 NIV – “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

3. Eros – Physical Love (Sexual)

4. Agape – Unconditional Love

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

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

The Practice of What Ordinary Love is

I Corinthians 14:1 LB – “Make love your greatest aim.”

I Corinthians 13:1-2 NIV – If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

1. Love is a Choice

Colossians 3:14 NIV – And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

“Love either towards God or man, is an affair of the will.” CS Lewis

2. Love is Unconditional

Ephesians 4:2 NLT – Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.

•Love does not filter its current emotional state through the screen of past hurts and offenses. Instead it shows grace and forgiveness.

“Love me when I least deserve it, because that’s when I really need it.” – Swedish Proverb

3. Love is Visible

I John 3:18 NIV –  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

“Love is the sum of all virtue, and love disposes us to do good.” – Jonathan Edwards

4. Love is Eternal

I Corinthians 13:7-8, 13 NLT –  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[a] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

•Although human love requires a person to prove themselves before love is given. However, Christ like love offers itself to those who are both lovable and unlovable. Instead of assuming the worst, it tirelessly looks for the best in others.

5. Love is a LifeStyle

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

•It’s new because it presents a new standard – The Love of Jesus
•The selfless love that Christ followers display toward one another witnesses to the world that they are true disciples.

Salvation because of Love

John 3:16

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

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

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