Click on the link below to get to the podcast homepage. Enjoy our full Contemporary service including the song service and preaching. You can get a copy of the outline for the message below.
Let’s Just Praise the Lord
When God is the center of our lives, we can praise Him every day, because we will always find blessings no matter how difficult our circumstances.
I. The Greatness of God (Psalm 145:3-6)
A. God Is Great In His Qualities (v. 3). The more you learn about God, and the deeper your relationship grows with Him, the greater He becomes.
B. God is Great in His Works (v.4). A believer sees the wisdom and power of God displayed in creation and in history.
C. God is Great in His Majesty (v. 5). Do we meditate on the glory of God?
D. God is Great in His Justice (v. 6). Today we need to recapture this "fear of the Lord" that recognizes Him as a God who judges sin.
II. The Goodness of God (Psalm 145:7-10)
A. God’s Goodness is Abundant (v. 7). God is no miser but, do we celebrate God’s goodness?
B. God’s Goodness is Compassionate (v.8). When we get the idea that God ought to bless us then we can only praise ourselves.
C. God’s Goodness is World-wide. (v. 9-10). All creation is united in a hymn of praise to the Creator – will we join in? (Ps. 19; 148:8; 21:3; 2 Chron. 6:41)
III. The Government of God (Psalm 145:11-13)
A. God’s Kingdom is a Glorious Kingdom (vv. 11-12). The kingdoms of men have turned to dust, but the glory of God is everlasting. (Es. 1:1-8)
B. God’s Kingdom is a Powerful Kingdom (v.11) God is ultimately in control even though God gives us freedom.
C. God’s Kingdom is an Eternal Kingdom (v.13). It will reign forever and ever. (Rev. 11:15; Col. 1:13; 2:14-15)
IV. The Grace of God (Psalm 145:14-20)
A. God is Gracious to Those Who Fall. (v.14) He is there in our cares, anxieties, sins, &responsibilities. (2 Sam. 11-12; Ps. 51; 1 Pet. 5:7; Is. 40:31)
B. God is Gracious to Those Who Hunger (v.15-17) How easy it is for God to meet our needs! All He has to do is open His hand! ( Ps. 104)
C. God is Gracious to Those Who Pray. (v. 18-19). Let’s show the proper respect and reverence for Who He is as we sincerely approach Him.
D. God is Gracious to Those Who Love Him. (v.20-21). We will escape the sad consequences of disobedience and will receive special help and strength in times of trial and testing. (John 14:21-24; 15:9-16)
Praise is one earthly occupation we will continue in heaven, so we ought to begin practicing now!
What Will Our Focus Be?
We live in a day of fear, frustrations, and focus on looming disasters. The newspapers and news broadcasts disturb and distract even God’s people. Let’s take time this morning to look to THE ONE who can make some sense out of the chaos. I find comfort in focusing on:
I. God’s P___________ Displayed
- In this church and in your life
- M__________ and Answered P___________
- James 5:13, 16; Phil 4:6; Matt. 17:20; 19:26
II. God’s P__________ Described
- Matt. 10:19-31, 6:25-34
- “Living God” who c_________ Gen. 1:1
- S________ & P__________ Heb. 1:3, 1 Tim. 6:17
III. God’s P__________ Demonstrated
- Rahab, Joseph, Noah, John the Baptist, Stephen, Abel
- Matt. 5:45, Ps. 32:7, 91:3-7, Prob. 2:8
- “He got _____________.”
What will your focus be? What witness will you be to those around you who are searching for security and peace? Worry or Faith? Trust or Fear?
God’s Wisdom – Guards Us
Proverbs 2 & 3
The wisdom of God will make our life beyond compare “if” we will listen & accept it, hold it dearly, and grow in it.
I. Wisdom Will Bring Protection & Safety
- From the consequences of sin - Ps. 119:105; Rom. 3:9
- From dangerous situations, harmful substances, misleading emotions, and destructive circumstances -1 Cor. 6:19-20; Prov. 14:12; 12:15;
II. Wisdom Will Bring Peace, Prosperity, & Long Life
(Prov. 3:1-2, 16-18)
- We generally will avoid physical fights and arguments - Prov. 15:1; 21:23; 16:28; 18:21; James 1:19; 3:17-18
- We generally are blessed financially - Prov. 3:9-10; Mal. 3:10; Luke 6:38
- We generally are blessed with longevity of life – Prov. 9:11-12; Ex. 20:12; Eph. 6:1-3;
III. Wisdom Will Bring A Good Life & Good Health
(Prov. 3:5-6, 7-8)
Jer. 29:11; John 10:10; Deut. 20:4; Ps. 31:19; Rom. 8:31; Matt. 25:21
“If you accept my words…” (Prov. 2:1-5) That’s a big “IF.” Sometimes we just don’t want words of wisdom. Because they remind us of what’s right and what’s wrong. So when we’re more inclined to follow our own ways - these poor choices mean we will miss the blessings and benefits of a wisdom that would have guarded us. Let’s not miss out!
God’s Wisdom – Instructs Us
Prov. 1 & 4
Wisdom is: “Knowledge, and the capacity to make due use of it.” We must learn how to live out what we know. For wisdom to have its true effect on our lives we must:
I. Honor God First 1:7
- The true foundation of wisdom is to fear God… to honor, respect, and hold Him in awe. By making God our #1 priority – it will affect daily actions, attitudes, and speech. When we trust Him first – He will make us truly wise.
Prov. 9:10-12; Eccl. 12:13; Ps. 111:10; Deut. 10:12-13
II. Listen to Godly Instruction 1:2,5, 8; 4:1-2, 20-22
- Solomon made every effort to give us a written record of his instruction concerning God’s will for our life, and he calls us to hear it over and over and over again. Will we do it? Will we listen? Will the instruction sink down deep and become a part of us? Will it make any difference in how we live our lives? We will only be wise if we hang on every word from God. Prov. 8:33-34; John 10:27; James 1:19; Prov. 12:15; Prov. 19:27; Rom. 10:17
III. Resist Wayward Enticement 1:10
- Solomon says to us concerning sinners luring us into sin, “Don’t give in to them”… “Don’t go along with them”… “Don’t set foot on their path.” Most people prefer to follow the majority. It is often so much easier to do wrong when you are in a crowd than when you are alone and we do not like to be unpopular. But we must seek God’s help and then walk in God’s way irrespective as to the opinion or leading of others.
- Ex. 23:2; 1 Cor. 15:33; 2 Cor. 6:14; Gal. 1:10; Rom. 12:2; Acts 5:29; Ps. 1:1; Prov. 13:20; 22:24-25; Matt. 7:13-14
IV. Guard Our Heart 4:23
- “Sow a thought, reap a deed. Sow a deed, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.”
- What am I feeding my mind on and how is that affecting my relationship with God? What sins or bad habits in my life are weighing me down? What behaviors or habits do I know to be right, and yet avoid or ignore? Am I selfishly trying to find physical or emotional fulfillment through my relationships instead of through God’s purposes?
- Rom. 12:2; Ps. 119:9-11; Matt. 12:34; Luke 6:45
A. Govern your speech - 4:24 B. Guard your sight - 4:25
C. Guide your steps - 4:27
Shadow of Depression
Jeremiah 20:14 & 18
Like Jeremiah, we all face struggles and with those struggles the possibility of depression. We need to be prepared. That’s what we hope to do today – get equipped so we can be ready when depression rears its ugly head. As we close out this series on “Real Life” today - Let’s look at:
I. What Depression Does
Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells; Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns; Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety; Pessimism, indifference; Loss of energy, persistent lethargy; Feelings of guilt, worthlessness; Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness; Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal; Unexplained aches and pains; Recurring thoughts of death or suicide; Feeling defeated, defective, deserted, and deprived.
II. What God Will Do
A. Strengthen Us Is. 40:29; 41:10; 40:31
B. Protect Us Ps. 3:3; 91:4
C. Give Us Rest Matt. 11:28-30
D. Hear Us Ps. 40:1-3; 18:6
E. Never Leave Us Deut. 31:8; Heb. 13:5
F. Deliver Us Ps. 34:18-19; 3:8
G. Comfort Us 2 Cor. 7:6; 1:3-4
H. Love Us Rom. 8:39; 1 Jn. 4:10
III. What We Can Do
A. Take Note of the Causes Instead of the Casualties
B. Think Positively Instead of Negatively - Prov. 23:7; Phil. 4:8; Lamentations 3:21; 2 Cor. 4:7-10; 2 Cor. 10:5
C. Trust God Instead of Circumstances - Lamentations 3:22-26, 37; John 16:33; Jer. 17:7; Ps. 42:11; Phil. 4:10-13
D. Turn to God’s Word for Hope, Joy, Grace, & Salvation Instead of Pop Psychology - Col. 1:5-6, 23, 27; Eph. 4:4-6
E. Treat Others with Love Instead of Stressing Out on Self-Involvement Matt. 22:36-40
Struggle of Disappointment
We all face disappointments in life. Any time our hopes are not realized or our expectations or desires are not fulfilled, we feel disappointed. Disappointment can be a passing emotion or a life-changing event that alters our spiritual destiny. How we handle disappointment is our focus today.
I. We Struggle With Disappointments
A. Disappointments Over Circumstances
Saul – 1 Sam. 9:3-14
B. Disappointments Over People
Jesus’ Disciples & Emmaus Disciples - Matt. 16:21-23;
Luke 24:20-21, 25-27
C. Disappointments Over Things
Habakkuk, Solomon, Saul - Hab. 1:2-4; 1 Kings 10:23; Eccl. 5:10;
Prov. 27:24; Phil. 3:8; 1 Tim. 6:9-11
II. God is Sovereign With Appointments
A. Learn to Trust - God appointed Saul’s Disappointment for a purpose greater than Saul could see. 1 Sam. 9:15-20; God appointed Jesus’ Death for a purpose greater than the disciples could see – 1 Peter 3:18; Rom. 5:10; God appoints Our Disappointments for a purpose greater than we can see - Romans 11:33-34; Is. 55:8-9; 1 Cor. 1:25; Is. 49:23 B. Learn to Thank - 1 Thess. 5:18; Ps. 9:1; 103:2; Phil 4:6-7 - This is an
Antidote to Disappointment. No matter what we are going through,
we can find something to be thankful for.
C. Learn to Rejoice – Jer. 29:11; Hab. 3:17-18; Phil. 4:4 We can
rejoice that He has good plans for our future forever.
The psalmist learned that when we have nothing left but God, we realize He is enough. (Ps. 73:23-26) Our questions may not all be answered, our circumstances may not be improved, and the person we set our heart on may not live up to our expectations, but God is our strength, our hope, our reason for rejoicing no matter what!
Suffering of Betrayal
Job 19:13-22; 42:1-15
There is perhaps no greater offense to a relationship than that of betrayal. Betrayal robs us of a sense of security and confidence. Someone close to us has proven untrustworthy. Most of us have felt the sting of betrayal; likely most of us have even inflicted it. What can we learn from it today…
A. From Family - Job 2:9
B. From Friends - Job 22:23
C. From What Appears to be God - Job 3:1-3,11,20; 19:13-22
A. Reflex Rage - Eph. 4:26
B. Revenge & Retaliation - Rom. 12:19
C. Rehashing & Recording – 1 Cor. 13:5
D. Reclusive Isolation – Matt. 5:14-16
A. Trust God - Rom. 12:19; Prov. 3:5-6; 19:5; Psalm 41:9; 55:22-23;
B. Forgive Others – Luke 23:34; Matt 26:50; 6:14-15; Mark 11:25
C. Learn to Trust Others Again - Psalm 55:20-21; Prov. 17:17; 18:24; 27:17; Eccl. 4:9-10
A. Move On - Rom. 12:18
B. God Can Use It! Gen. 50:20, Rom. 8:28-31; 2 Tim. 4:6-8,10
Don’t let the distraction of betrayal destroy your life! We cannot be effective Christ Followers if we are more obsessed with the pain of our past than the potential of our future. Learn from betrayal and let God help you through it!
Sorrow of Separations
Grief or sorrow is universal. At some point in everyone’s life, there will be at least one encounter with the sorrow of separation. It may be from the death of a loved one, a good friend or close family member that moves away, the end of a relationship such as a divorce or break-up, the loss of a job or career, or any other change that alters life as you know it. We are instructed: “Grieve not as those who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13). Let’s learn today how to do just that.
I. Recognize the Stages of Sorrow
Stage 1: Denial Stage 2: Anger. Stage 3: Bargaining
Stage 4: Depression Stage 5: Acceptance
(Other Stages Along the Way: 1) Emotional Release - John 11:35;
2) Physical Symptoms; 3) Guilt; 4) Panic; 5) Resistance to Normality)
II. We Are Not Alone In Our Sorrow
God is There for Us: He Watches Over Us, Heals, Cares, Comforts,
Bears our Burdens, Provides Rest - Matt. 5:4; 11:28; Ps. 147:3;
34:18; 145:14; 13:1-2; Gen. 31:49; Rom. 8:38-39; Josh. 1:9; Is. 43:2
III. There is Coming A Day of No Sorrow
A. We Live in a Fallen Sin-Sick World Now
Gen. 3:21-23; Rom. 5:12; 6:23
“But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” 2 Sam. 12:23
B. We Will One Day Live in Heaven with Jesus
1 Cor. 15:20-22, 42-45; 50-58; Rev. 2:10; 7:17; 20:14
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev. 21:4
Many develop a deeper faith in God during the sorrow of separation. Those with mature faith give evidence of a strong relationship with God while those with a childish faith may never really work through their grief and sorrow. Let’s grow in our faith so we will be prepared for Life’s valleys and separations here and have hope and trust in God who will one day end all sorrow.
Strain of Measuring Up
Gen 29; 30; 2 Cor. 10:12; Eph. 1:3-8
Do you ever compare yourself to others and feel like you don’t quite measure up? If success is defined in the eye of the beholder, who are you letting behold your success? The strain of measuring up depends on who is holding your measuring stick & what exactly is that measuring stick. As we look at Leah & Rachel today as we determine…
I. Our Measuring Sticks…
A. Beauty – Gen. 29:17; Prov. 31:30; 1 Sam. 16:7; 1 Pet. 3:3-5
B. Brains – Prov. 2:6; 3:7; 1 Cor. 3:18-19; Is. 5:21; Col. 2:8
C. Brawn – Neh. 8:10; Is. 41:10 Ex. 15:2; Jer. 17:5,7
D. Busyness & Business - Genesis 30:1, 8; Mark 8:36
E. Buddy’s Opinions - 1 Cor. 15:33; Rom. 12:2; Gal. 1:10 F. Breed – Gen. 30:24; 31:19; 1 Tim. 6:6; Phil. 4:11
II. God’s Measuring Stick…
God Sees Us As:
A. Crown of Creation - Made In His Image – Gen. 1:26-27
B. Children of God – John 1:12; Eph. 1:3-8
C. Free From Condemnation - Romans 8:31-39
D. Complete in Christ – Col. 2:10
E. Able to Come Before Him in Confidence – Eph. 3:12
F. His Workmanship that He Will Carry On to Completion Eph. 2:10;
G. Sealed With the Comforter (Holy Spirit) - Eph. 1:13-14
H. Chosen By Him Through Christ - Eph. 1:4-5
I. Saved by His Compassionate Grace – Eph. 2:8-9
J. Clothed with Christ & Completely Forgiven - Gal. 3:26-27;
K. Crossed Over from Death to Life - John 5:24
L. Able to Do All Things Through Christ – Phil. 4:13
Dr. Neil T. Anderson - “The more you reaffirm who you are in Christ, the more your behavior (and beliefs) will begin to reflect your true identity!” Do you measure yourself by the world’s standards or by God’s measurement of you?
The Sting of Failure
How do you handle current failures, past failures, and the fear of failure in the present? We look at Peter today who had his share of failures and hopefully learn from him.
I. Our Faith Often Begins With Fear
A. Faith often begins when you see God on the mountain and you
are in the valley. Mark 6:47-48; John 6:17-19; Ex. 14:15-16;
2 King 5:13-14; Rom. 3; Acts 12:16-17
B. Faith that begins with fear will end up nearer the Father.
II. Our Faith May Waver With Failure
A. Some deny failure because of pride & become prisoners. 1 Jn. 1:9
The biggest word in Scripture might be that two-letter one – “if.”
B. Some fixate on failure and become paralyzed.
C. Some frustrated by failures try to fix them by their own power.
Holy Spirit Power is Needed! 2 Tim. 1:7
III. The Recovery of Our Faith Is the Father’s Fame
A. Step Out and Find Out God’s Power. Matt. 14:28; Eph. 2:8-9 And
then we point unabashedly to the One who makes it possible.
B. Winds of pride, legalism, doubt, past failures may threaten to sink
us. Matt. 14:30
C. Jesus is Always There With a Helping Hand. Matt. 14:30-31
IV. Finishing Faithfully Is Our Faith’s Future
A. We Grow When We Set Our Sights On Trusting God.
The only way our faith will ever strengthen is for us to use it.
Prov. 3:5–6; Ps. 37:5; Phil. 4:13
B. We Can Find Satisfaction in the Solid Gifts Failure Can Provide.
Failure has its gifts - God wants us to learn perseverance, courage,
& humility. Rom. 5:3-4; James 1:2-4; Acts 20:19; Phil. 1:20
C. We Steer Where We Stare. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and the
prize. Matt. 14:30; Heb. 12:1-2; Phil 3:13-14
Failures – we all have them, but don’t let them negatively define who you are! Trust God and continually step out of the boat for Him!
Storms of Doubt
Mark 4:37-40; 2 Cor. 11:23-27; James 1:2-4
“The disciples woke Him (Jesus) and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38) Sometimes we seem to be drowning in storms of doubt ourselves and we need some timely reminders from our Lord – That is our focus today.
I. Faith is a Journey
A. Our Requests Are Often Immature
- James 1:5-6; 4:3; 1 Thess. 5:9; Matt. 7:7-11; Jer. 29:11;
B. Our Concept of the Trip & Distance Is Limited
- Ps. 74:10; 89:46; Ps. 39:5; 103:15-16; James 4:4; 1 Chron. 29:15;
C. Our Vision of the Destination Frequently Becomes
- 2 Cor. 4:16-18; 11:23-27
II. Light for the Journey
A. Testimonies of Perseverance – Job, Paul, Modern Day;
B. Morsels of Scripture – Is. 41:10; Ps. 119:105; Heb. 4:12;
Jer. 15:16; Ps. 33:22; Matt. 11:28
C. Songs of Joy – Ps. 95:1-3; Acts 16:25
D. Thanksgiving & Blessings – Phil 4:6; Ps. 103:2
E. Acts of Kindness – 2 Cor. 8:1-5
F. News of God Working – Rom. 1:12; Acts 11:20-23
G. Holy Spirit Nudging’s – Ps. 139:17-18; John 14:16
H. God’s Reassure In Prayer – Phil. 1:19; 1 Pet. 5:7
God is the Father of forward motion. Trust Him. He will get you home in spite of the storms in life. Those storms, part of the journey, can help us on our journey. And the trials of the trip will be lost in the joys of the destination and the glimmers of sunlight for the trip.
Stress of Demands
Most of us would agree that: Life is demanding! Author and preacher Max Lucado said that in his opinion – “This was a day in which Jesus received more stress than any other day in his life aside from the Crucifixion.” What can we learn from Jesus and how He handled this pressure filled day to help us with the demands of life?
I. Jesus Knows How We Feel.
- He hears of the death of John the Baptist: his cousin, his forerunner, his coworker, his friend. Matt.14:1-13
- His own life was threatened by Herod. Luke 9:9
- His Disciples reunite with Him reporting miracles & ministry. Mark 6:30
- 5,000 men plus others swarm around Jesus to meet the man who had empowered the disciples to do what they did. Matt. 14:21
- “They did not even have a chance to eat…” Mark 6:31
- Jesus tried to get away with the disciples but His plans were interrupted as “The crowds learned about it and followed him.” Mark 6:31, Luke 9:11
- Hebrews 4:15: “He himself has shared fully in all our experience” So he could sympathize with our weaknesses.
II. Jesus Knows the Value of Boundaries
-- Jesus valued rest Jesus attempted to get away from the crowd for rest. Mark 6:31 Lack of Discipline Can Be Hazardous to Your Health
- Jesus valued time away with a few close friends to unwind and reflect. Jesus sought time with those closest to Him. Mark 6:31 Friends provide empathy, support, sharpening, and burden bearing. (James 5:16; Gal. 6:2; Eccl. 4:12; Prov. 27:17)
- Jesus valued setting limits. “He dismissed the crowd” Matt. 14:22 (Mark 1:42-44; 8:9; Luke 8:38-39; Matt. 12:46-50; John 19:9-11; Matt. 19:13-14)
- Jesus valued prayer to recharge. “He went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.” Matt. 14:23 We need to often realign Our priorities with God’s. (Matt. 6:6,33; 26:41) Bring Our priorities under the submission of God for His glory and our good.
Dwight Eisenhower once said, “The urgent is rarely important and the important is rarely urgent.” Jesus said, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…” (Matt. 6:33) Jesus knows your busyness and business. Take comfort. Take time to evaluate your priorities and let Jesus’ example bring balance to your life as you “follow” him. (Matt. 4:19)
“Eat, Drink, & Be Merry?”
Author & speaker, Larry Crabb, said that we live in a time when “Feeling better has become more important to us than finding God.” What makes you happy? God wants us to have a joy that the world can’t take away. The problem is that we often find ourselves looking for it in all the wrong places. Solomon did too – let’s learn with him:
1. THE P________ FOR PLEASURE Eccl. 2:4-8 Solomon found D________, Depression, & D_______ in:
- L___________ Eccl. 2:2
- Wine and Folly Eccl. 2:3
- P___________ Eccl. 2:4-6
- S___________ Eccl. 2:7a
- Herds and Flocks Eccl. 2:7b
- S______ & G_____ Eccl. 2:8
- S___________ Eccl. 2:8b
- H__________ Eccl. 2:8c
“Sin will take you F_______ than you want to go and keep you L_______ than you want to stay and cost you M______ than you want to pay.”
2. THE P__________ WITH PLEASURE Eccl. 2:9-11
- Cor. 10:23 “everything is P_______, but not everything is B_____
- Pleasure is A______________
- We can become dependent upon pleasure as we can with a drug.
- Pleasure does not S___________.
- Pleasure may provide a momentary high, but the high wears off. 2 Timothy 3:2-5; Proverbs 10:23
3. THE P_____________ OF PLEASURE
- Pleasure experienced with God’s will is F___________.
- Pleasure comes from D_______; Joy comes from B______.
- Neither Happiness or Joy is dependent upon pleasure.
- We are called to O___________, not pleasure. Eph. 2:10
So what’s it going to be? What are you looking for – temporary pleasure or eternal joy? One is fleeting; one is lasting, and the amazing thing is that when you commit to having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, He gives you joy but He also throws in the happiness and pleasure which comes from living for Him.
“How Can These Things Be? – Mary”
A question asked by Mary, but asked many times since concerning God’s plan to save man. Mary wondered the how God might accomplish her pregnancy without a man. Many wonder today how God might accomplish our salvation through The Man Jesus Christ. Let us look at three aspects of Jesus becoming flesh and what that means to us this Christmas. There is a danger in concentrating on any of these aspects so much that we leave the other out. What if we had a:
1. C___________LESS CRIB
- Why was there a baby Jesus? – “How can these things be?”
Let us appreciate the seriousness of our condition; God’s Plan, & the overwhelming love of our Lord and Savior!
2. C___________LESS CRIB
- Who was this baby Jesus? – “How can these things be?”
He gave up 1) 2)
Let us appreciate the rights and privelages our Lord and Savior temporarily gave up for us!
3. C___________LESS CROSS
- How could God be baby Jesus? – “How can these things be?”
Jesus voluntarily chose a subordinate _______ and ___________ - He became a S__________
Let us appreciate the willingness of God to become one of us so that He may know us and save us!
“How can these things be? – We will never be able to explain the miracle of the incarnation until God is made a reality in our hearts! Have you done this?
Gifts Under the Tree
So what do you get for the person who has everything? How about…
- A GIFT FOR ALL SEASONS
- It is the H____________ Gift you can give.
- 1 Cor. 14:1 “Follow the way of Love” – Our Top Priority
- 1 Cor. 13:14 “…Faith, Hope, & Love. But the greatest of these is Love.”
- 1 Cor. 13:1-3 I may do much in God’s name but if I fail to live & walk & talk & worship & be motivated by a loving heart, then you can chalk up another life that has missed the mark.
- Gal. 5:6 “The only thing that C__________ is faith expressing itself through love.”
- It is the M________ E____________ Gift you can give.
- Matt. 25:40 “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for M_______.”
- A LOVE OF ANOTHER KIND
- Human Love is so C_______________
- 1 John 4:9 “This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.” Not based on P______________ or A Feeling!
- Human Love is so S_______________
- 1 John 4:19-20 “We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”
- Jesus says: Matt. 5:22 Don’t be A______ with your brother; Matt. 5:38-42 Turn the cheek if slapped, give to those who sue you, walk an extra mile if asked to go one, give to those who want to borrow; Matt. 5:44 Love your E________ - not just your neighbors, pray for those who persecute you; Matt. 6:3 Give to the needy in secret; Matt. 7:1 Do not J_________ others; Matt. 18:22 Give unlimited forgiveness to others.
God said, “I didn’t miss a one, not a single one. Now they all know that I love them.” Do others know that of you?
What Do You Ponder In Your Heart?
“Mary had a lot on her mind!” What an understatement! As she considered it all – what must she have thought? Is pondering like worrying? Is there value in contemplation and meditation? As we reflect on Mary, the mother of Jesus, let us ask ourselves a pointed question: “What do we ponder?”
- Mary Must Have Pondered…
- “Ponder” Means:
- “Treasured” or “Kept” Means:
- My P____________?
- Who Am I?
- Who is this B_________?
- Worth Our Pondering…
- Dangers to Ponder:
- Lack of Self-E_____________. Ps. 46:10; 2 Cor. 13:5
- Engrossed in too many other T_________. Matt. 6: 33
- Familiarity may lead to Spiritual I_____________. Acts 28:26-27
- Failing to Seek, Know, & L_____ God. Mark 12:30-31
- Divine Thoughts:
- Divine R_____________. Mark 10:27; Ps. 119:105
- Divine I______________. James 4:8; Matt. 7:7-8
- Divine E______________. “To service & sacrifice” Eph. 4:12; Matt. 5:40-42
- Divine T______________. Phil. 4:8
- Divine P______________. Heb. 13:5-6; Matt. 6:25-34; Rev. 2:10; Eph. 3:20
There is a powerful temptation to let this art of meditation or “pondering” to rust in disuse. Let us slow down, think much about God and our relationship to Him. The Spiritual strength, peace, and contentment will be well worth the effort.
The Indescribable Gift
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” II Cor. 9:15 The best gift of all is Jesus. He is a gift that cannot be fully described, but we will attempt this morning to picture this gift clearer than before so that we may appreciate Him even more.
- He Was A Gift of H____________
- Luke 2:5-7 We are attracted by the G_________ and G_________, and we overlook the M___________ yet M____________.
- “Emmanuel” – Hebrew meaning “God with us.”
- 2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:5-6; Is. 53:5 He came because of the C___________!
- He Was A Gift of H____________
- John 10:10 There is a huge difference between viewing Christianity as a religion of R__________ and viewing it as a R___________ with Christ.
- Heb. 4:15 We have someone who Understands
- We have a R__________ to share the reason for the celebration – “It wasn’t God who put the sign up!”
- He Was A Gift of H____________
- It was U__________ love. No strings attached John 3:16
- Eph. 2:8 Not an earned gift, but a gift that must be received. Yet many still refuse this gift.
- “Jesus” means “Jehovah Saves” or “the Lord of Salvation.”
- It’s an E_____________ name
- It’s an E_____________ name
- It’s an E_____________ name Phil. 2:9
- It’s an E_____________ name Acts 4:12; Jn 14:6
He Makes Me To Lie Down In Green Pastures
When the Bible refers to us as sheep, it is not always flattering. Sheep are helpless without a shepherd (Matt. 9:36; Num. 27:17). Psalm 23 reflects the wonderful truth that God Himself is our Defender and we can rest in His presence that brings us Freedom. We can be…
I. Free of Fear
- Sheep are Timid, Helpless, Feeble, & Easily Panicked. The Presence of Their Owner & Protector Puts Them at Ease as Nothing Else Can Do.
- There is No Substitute For Christ’s Presence To Dispel Fear, Panic, and Terror of the Unknown - 2 Timothy 1:7; Psalm 4:8; Isaiah 41:10; John 14:27
II. Free of Friction
- Among Sheep There is a “Butting Order.”
- Because of the Rivalry, Tension, and Competition the Sheep Cannot Lie Down & Rest in Contentment. Ezekiel 34:20-22
- The Shepherd’s Presence Quickly Made the Sheep Forget Their Foolish Rivalries & Stopped Fighting! - 1 Tim. 6:6; Phil. 4:11; Matt. 20:16
- When Our Eyes Are On the Master, They Are Not On Those Around Me. This Is A Place of Peace! 1 Peter 3:14; Proverbs 29:25; Matt. 5:7
III. Freedom of Flies (Pests)
- When Tormented By Pests It Is Impossible For Sheep to Lie Down & Rest!
- A Good Shepherd Gives Various Types of Help to Relieve the Sheep of Pests.
- In the Christian Life – There Are Also Irritations, Frustrations, & Upsetting Circumstances/People.
- In Christ’s Care We Can Come to a Place of Quiet Contentment Despite Them! - Psalm 46:1; 34:4; 118:6-7; Romans 8:38-39
IV. Freedom From the Need of Finding Food(Hunger)
- Green Pastures Don’t Just Happen By Chance. They Are the Product of Incredible Labor, Time, & Skill in Land Use & are Essential To Healthy Sheep.
- A Hungry Ill-fed Sheep That Is Constantly On Its Feet Foraging To Satisfy It’s Gnawing Hunger Is Not Content and Does Not Thrive.
- Exodus 3:8 - A Land Flowing With Milk and Honey Is a Land of Rich, Green, Luxuriant Pastures That Provide Abundant Life!
- We Are Promised An Abundant Life Through Jesus Unrelenting Efforts On Our Part! – John 10:10; Rom. 5:17; 1 Cor. 2:9
God’s care for us is beyond our comprehension! He provides for us green pastures that only He can Deliver – let us trust Him!
The Harvest Prayer
Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." This passage underscores a need that the modern church has sorely neglected in recent years, but it is our Focus today.
I. The Potential “The Harvest Is Plentiful”
U Jesus’ disciples often saw people as a nuisance - Matthew 14:15-16 the crowd; 15:22-23 A Canaanite woman; 19:13-14 little children; 20:30-34 Two blind men
U Jesus saw people as sheep needing a shepherd – we need to see people with the positive eyes of Jesus.
U In such troubled days – we should encourage people to trust in Christ – “a hope that will not disappoint” -Romans 5:5
U Independent Christian Churches are one of the few movements that have experienced growth the past 20 years.
U We have more mega churches per capita and we are starting more effective new church plants than any other movement.
II. The Problem “The Workers Are Few”
U It’s estimated that there are 3 billion who don’t know Jesus.
U Why is there a shrinking pool of potential ministers: 1. The secularization of society has infiltrated the church; 2. The postmodern mind set that denigrates anything authoritative; 3. The declining number of teens participating in Christian service camps; 4.The decreased involvement of ministers in the lives of teens; 5. The over-emphasis of the need for a dramatic call; 6. Strong emphasis on the priesthood of all believers.
III. The Prescription “Ask The Lord To Send Out Workers”
U 1. Pray continuously. 2. Pray specifically. 3. Pray actively – Church Leaders: Place High Priority on recruiting Youth, Church: Hold in high esteem those who have gone into ministry, Parents and Grandparents: Plant & Water Ministry Seeds in Youth; Those Nearing Retirement: Consider Ministry; All of Us: Mine For Ministers
Rom. 10:13-15 "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!
Parenting and Marriage
Children are a gift from the Lord, yet often times they seem to spell trouble for our marriages. Agreeing on how to raise our children often seems impossible. Let’s turn this morning to the example of a husband and wife who raised three Godly children, and learn from them three parenting traits.
I. Recognize Their P______________. (Ex. 2:2)
- Ps. 27:4 – “An arrow has to be A_______ at something!”
- Zig Ziglar – “You can train fleas to stay in an open jar!” – Do we put a L______ on our child’s potential?
- “Train up a child” – possibly refers to V____________ also.
- _____% of families are husband, wife, & two or more children
- 1 Peter 5:8 – The flow of society is working against us. Satan is trying to S__________ kill our children!
- Parents must be C____________ & I____________!
- Duet. 6 – Talk about the Lord n_________ in your daily conversation as you talk about sports, dress, or TV.
- Take advantage of the S__________ T________ God gives you to instill proper values.
- Be careful not to R__________ your children too soon.
- 1) Make the marriage the C_______ of your home from the beginning. Children are a blessing, but not the f______ point.
- 2) Fill your child with the Word of God E_______. Ps. 119:11
- 3) Set down tangible benchmarks of F_________.
- 4) Let children know when they are on their own & treat them like A________. (#1 problem with parents - _____% said failure to let children go after they are married.)
- “What your R____ you keep; what you h_____ onto you lose.”
2 Kings 5 - 6
One leader in the right spot can make a lot of difference. The Prophet Elisha was such a man! Hopefully by studying how Elisha impacted others, we can be more effective in influencing others today. We can learn much by looking at 3 important people in Elisha’s life…
I. Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-16)
A. Remember the influential have the same spiritual needs as
anybody else. (Rom. 3:23)
B. Remember the influential will be cured in the same way.
(Rom. 1:16; 6:23; Acts 2:38)
C. Remember that the influential may often resist just like others do.
(Luke 18:22; 1 Cor. 1:26-27)
II. Gehazi (2 Kings 5:19-27)
- Gehazi is greedy and he lies
- 1 Cor. 15:33 - Bad company corrupts good character and good
company can reinforce good character.
- “Birds of a feather flock together.”
- Cutting others off is sometimes essential to avoid ongoing, negative
III. A Student (2 Kings 6:1-7)
- Don’t be aloof - Be there and show concern.
- Youth influence the future. Make time to shape them!
- The key is not who we are; the key is the One we serve. He is all
powerful and can work through any of us!
Elisha was a man of influence in a time of iniquity, bringing Israel back to God. May God raise up spiritual leaders today who will influence others so that our nation and world can be brought back to God! Will you be that leader?
2 Kings 4
Let’s look at 6 qualities of Elisha that identify him as a man who maintained his character. These are qualities that any of us who seek to lead on any level—from being a leader in the home to being the leader of a corporation—ought to try to emulate.
I. Faith (2 Kings 4:1-7)
- James 1:27; Eph. 3:20 - 27 - God wants us to be compassionate to the less fortunate. “If God’s your partner, make your plans big.” - D L Moody
II. Contentment (2 Kings 4:8-11)
- Heb. 13:2; Phil. 4:12-13 – We need to be satisfied with what God has provided
III. Gratitude (2 Kings 4:12-13)
- 1 Thess. 5:18 – A warning against presumption – be thankful!
IV. Truthfulness (2 Kings 4:14-17)
- Ps. 15:1-2, 4; Eph. 4:25 - “These tales remind us that honesty in private life makes honesty in public life.”
V. Concern (2 Kings 4:18-30)
- Luke 10:25-37; Rom. 15:1 - We should never get so busy, so big, so indifferent that we don’t care for hurting people.
VI. Dependence (2 Kings 4:31-37)
- Judges 16:20; Duet. 8:17-18 – True power in not in us, gimmicks, or programs – It’s in God and our reliance on Him.
Are you preserving your character? The character traits we looked at today define who we are as a person and they highly influence the choices we make in our lives that determine our eternal destiny.
Responding To God’s Call
1 Kings 19:19-21 & 2 Kings 2
By looking at Elisha’s response to God’s call we see he was willing to accept leadership and he sought to make a positive difference in a time of great sin. As Christians, we can learn some life lessons from Elisha…
I. Elisha Made a Complete Departure From the Past When God Called Him. (1 Kings 19:19-21)
- Phil 3:7,13-14 – We may have to leave….
II. Elisha Maintained Devotion to His Spiritual Mentor When Serving as an Student. (2 Kings 2:1-6)
- James 1:19; Phil. 3:17 - An effective leader needs mentors and a teachable spirit.
III. Elisha Was Ready to be Used by God in an Important Way When the Opportunity Arose. (2 Kings 2:7-15)
- 1 Timothy 3:1; 4:14; 1 Pet. 4:10 – If you are gifted to lead, you get uncomfortable if you are not using your gift – but Be sensitive to God’s leading.
IV. Elisha Was Sensitive to the Feelings of Other People When Challenged. (2 Kings 2:16-22)
- Gal. 6:10; Phil. 2:4 - Good leaders must be able to relate to the people they lead and care for the everyday needs of the people.
V. Elisha Commanded the Respect from Others When Necessary. (2 Kings 2:23-25)
- Gal. 6:7; Ps. 36:1; 111:10; Prov. 13:24; 22:15 – The Responsibility for teaching Respect begins in the home – but when that respect is challenged, it sometimes has to be restored.
Elisha was just one man, but one man who was about to make a big difference in Israel. It began with the willingness to accept the mantle of leadership that Elijah had placed on his shoulders. Is God about to put a mantle of leadership on your shoulder? If so, may I challenge you to accept it and see what He can do? Are you using your gifts?
I’m Not Satisfied
Phil. 4:11-13; 19
“A constant search for more” - we are tempted to think that we’d be happy with just a little bit more. We think constantly, “I’m Not Satisfied” and we worry anxiously over so much. Paul shares with us a better way…
I. Looking For Contentment (4:11)
- “Whoever loves money never has money enough” Eccl. 5:10 – Yet we yearn for contentment with the idea of more, more, more!
- “For we brought nothing into the world, & we can take nothing out of it…” 1 Tim. 6:6-10 - Why strive for material stuff that doesn’t last?
- “I have learned to be content …” Phil. 4:11 - It is attainable!
II. Learning Contentment (4:12)
A. Trusting God & His Promises is a necessity to learning
contentment. Heb. 13:15; Is.26:3; Rom. 8:28
B. Focusing on Eternal Values is a necessity to learning contentment.
– Matt. 6:24-25, 32-33; 2 Cor. 12:10
C. A Positive Thankful Attitude is a necessity to learning
contentment. Eph. 5:20; Ps. 100:4
D. Balance & Personal Discipline are a necessity to learning
contentment. Establish a reasonable standard of living, a habit of
giving, spending and saving guidelines.
E. Fear and Worry are barriers to learning contentment.
Phil. 4:6-7; Matt. 6:25-26; 1 John 4:18 “What if…”
F. Coveting is a barrier to learning contentment. Ex.20:17;
Luke 12:15 “If Only I had…” People, Possessions, Position
G. Materialism is a barrier to learning contentment. 1 Tim. 6:9
III. Lord of Contentment (4:13,19)
God is enough! He is contentment! Ps.23; Phil. 4:13, 19
A. His Presence Is Sufficient…
B. His Power is Plenty…
C. His Protection is More Than Enough…
D. His Providence & Plans Are Perfect…
Are you still searching for contentment or have you found it in Jesus? Are you learning it daily with the help of the Spirit? Are you displaying it for others to see your God who meets all your needs?
I’ll Never Be Happy
Phil. 4:4; Neh. 8:10; Gal.5:22; Song of Solomon 2:15
Nehemiah reminded God’s people, “…the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Neh. 8:10). Why the reminder? Because God’s people need joy, and one of Satan’s first line of attacks to weaken our hands in the work is to take our joy. So how is this fruit of the spirit(JOY) cultivated? Pivotal Issues…
1. Spending Time With God. Ps. 16:11; Phil. 3:7-9; Ps. 119:
2. Serving Others Humbly. Phil. 2:3-7; Gal. 1:10, 6:4
3. Saying “Thank You.” 1 Thess. 5:18; Phil. 4:6-7
4. Seeking Peace With Others. Rom. 12:18; Phil. 4:2;
5. Staying in God’s Will. Phil.4:1; Eph. 5:15–17; 1 Thess. 4:3; Heb. 10:36
6. Selecting Pure Thoughts. Matt. 5:8; Phil. 4:8
7. Subduing Material Desires. Phil. 4:10–12, 17; Eccl. 5:10
Joyless living makes us vulnerable to the attacks of Satan, not to mention that it’s a miserable way to live. Saved people can & should have joy. Let’s make sure we are living positively in such a way for God that the joy of the Lord is truly our strength!
I’m Not Heaven-Bound
One of the hardest commands to obey is: “Don’t let your heart be troubled.” We live in troubling times spurred on by Satan’s lies and schemes that even make us question our eternal destiny, but Jesus said “Trust also in me.”
I. Our True ____________ Is In Heaven
What do you long for? What do you look forward to?
1 Peter 1:3-5
1 Corinthians 15:19
II. Our True _______________ Is In Heaven
Where is all that really matters to you?
1 Peter 1:4
III. Our True ____________________ Is In Heaven
Why do you do all that you do? What moves & motivates you?
Hebrews 10:35-36; 12:1-3
2 Timothy 4:7-8
IV. Our True ________________ Is In Heaven
Where is your heart? Where do you “belong”?
1 Peter 2:11
1 Peter 1:13
2 Corinthians 5:1-5
Do you have Heaven on your mind? Do you need to change your way of thinking about this world & all you “own”?
I’m Not a People Person
We are often labeled or label ourselves and this serves as a great hindrance to our kingdom work. Satan loves for us to live a lie withdrawn from people and saying, “I’m not a people person.” Let’s get to the truth today of…
I. What Satan Says We Are…
A. Labeled… Introvert, Recluse, Shy, Hermit, Withdrawn John 8:44
B. Excused From… Fellowshipping, Loving, Serving, Witnessing,
Sharing, Church, Small Groups Eph. 6:11
C. Not Valuable… Not a Leader, Not outspoken, Not Chosen, Not
Worth Knowing, Not Gifted, Not a Contributor 1 Pet. 5:8; Mark 4:15
II. What God Says We Are…
A. His Workmanship – Designed by Him to Do His Good Works
B. His Creation – Created By Him to Bring Him Praise Ps. 139:13-14
C. His Children – Loved By Him to Love Others 1 John 3:1, 18
D. His Body – Fashioned by Him to Need Others 1 Cor. 12:14
III. What God Says We Are To Do…
A. Love People As God Does. Phil. 2:2
B. Be A Part of People- Not Apart. Phil. 2:3; Rom. 16:1-16
C. Encourage Other People. Phil. 2:4
D. Pray for Other People. Phil. 1:4-5
E. Show Appreciation To People – Phil. 2:14
F. Share Our Gifts With People. Phil. 1:19
G. Be With People. Phil 2:24
H. Be a True Friend to People. Phil. 2:25; Prov. 17:7
We can choose to live an unfruitful spiritual life based on Satan’s lies or we can choose to claim God’s TRUTH as our own and live productive spirit filled lives no matter our personality or natural bent.
I’m Not Meaningful
Philippians 1; 2 Cor. 10:3-5
There is a battle for our mind going on right now! Satan often tells us our lives are meaningless by feeding our false purposes. "For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). "You sow a thought you reap an act; you sow an act you reap a habit; you sow a habit you reap a character; you sow a character you reap a destiny." If we are going to win the mind games that the devil will try to play with us, we must realize the lies he tries to fed us and learn how to combat them.
I. Satan Wants To Hijack Our God-Given Purpose
Satan’s False Purposes For Us to Chase…
A. Materialism – Selfishness. Matt. 6:19-21- Real Joy is based on a
relationship with God. Not Worship of Things.
B. Guilt. 2 Cor. 5:17 - We are forgiven - a new Creation in Christ.
C. Hatred. Jer. 20:18; James 1:20; Eph. 4:31 and Col. 3:8 - God
realizes that anger will destroy us – love is the true path!
D. Need for Approval. Matt. 6:33; Gal. 6:10 – We Should Seek God’s
Approval - Not Man’s.
E. Pleasure - Lust of the eyes. Eccl. 2:1, 10-11; Gen. 6:5 - With God
as our master we can find pleasure the way God intended.
F. Power & Success. - Matt. 20:16; Mark 10:45; Gal. 5:13; Phil. 2:3-4
- Seek to Serve - Not be Served to Find True Meaning.
II. God Wants To Reveal His God-Given Purpose
A. Loving Others Like Christ - Phil. 1:3-7
B. Worshipping Christ - Phil. 1:4-5; 9-11
C. Serving Christ - Phil. 1:6, 13
D. Imitating Christ - Phil. 1:21-24
E. Telling Others of Christ - Phil. 1:25-26, 14
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18) When we live a life with long-term eternal values, not short-term earthly values then we will use our time, talents and treasure on things that make our life meaningful and everlastingly significant!
1 Peter 2: 21-24
The world can be a cruel place at times – we all suffer at the hands of cruel people. Probably nobody ever suffered more cruelty than Jesus, and yet, nobody ever responded with more grace than did He. So today – let’s remember Jesus’ death on the cross for us and let’s think about how we can emulate His reaction. “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21
I. Jesus Suffered Cruelty
A. What Jesus Did - He became a Victim of Disloyalty; Victim of
Neglect; Victim of Rank Injustice; Victim of Verbal Abuse; Victim of
B. What Jesus Could Have Done - Matt. 26:53
C. Why Jesus Did What He Did - 2 Cor. 5:19; Is. 53:6; 1 Pet. 2: 21-24
II. Jesus Set The Example In How To Deal With Cruelty
A. Avoid Cruelty If At All Possible & Reasonable
- Luke 4:30; Matt. 26:39; Matt. 2:13-14; Acts 9:25
B. Turn the Cheek & Let God Handle It
- Matt. 5:39; Prov. 24:25; 1 Pet. 3:9; Rom. 12:18, 21
C. Pray For the Abuser
- Matt. 5:44; Luke 23:34
D. Forgive As Soon As Possible
- Luke 23:34 “Resentment is like acid that does more damage to the
container in which it is stored, than the object on which it is
E. Trust In God’s Care & Plan
- Luke 23:46; Gen. 50:20; Jer. 15:21
The scene of Jesus on the cross melts the coldest heart. I would ask today that you allow the compassionate, crucified Christ, to melt your heart of bitterness and that you would go home saying, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they do.”
What do we do with unreliable, inconsistent people? We don’t appreciate having undependable people like Simon Peter on our team or in our home. They often disappoint us and leave us holding the bag. Let’s study how Jesus encouraged Simon to overcome being “changeable.”
I. Understand Who We Are Dealing With
A. Evaluate. Be Discerning and perceptive… Make the distinction
between hypocrisy and inconsistency. James 1:5
B. Empathize. Be practical and know up front - some people are
more susceptible to falling than others. Luke 22:31
- Those with certain temperaments and personality; Those in High
pressure situations; New Christians from Worldly Backgrounds
II. Deal With Them As Jesus Did
Inconsistency needs to be confronted. Don’t excuse or exile them!
A. Enlighten. Engage them honestly so they learn & grow.
- Max Lucado - “Had Peter not felt the guilt in the courtyard, he
never would have proclaimed the grace on Pentecost.”
- Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim. 4:2; Titus 2:15
B. Encourage. Changeable people frequently need boosting up.
- Luke 22:32; Mark 16:7; 1 Cor. 15:5; John 21:6-19; 1 Thess. 5:11;
Heb. 3:13; 2 Cor. 13:11
- 1. Be Balanced, not Unfair. 2. Be Occasional, not Constant.
(Prov. 25:16) 3. Be Specific, not General. 4. Be Loving, Not Selfish.
(Prov. 29:5) 5. Be Honest, Not Deceptive.
“Let us consider how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds and let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25
Most of us are turned off by phoniness! Hypocrites in the church often suck the joy out of our lives as well as lead others to disastrous spiritual results. We have some much-needed lessons to learn from Jesus about confronting counterfeit Christians…
I. Recognizing the Counterfeit
A. They Make No Attempt to Practice What They Preach. Matt. 23:3
B. They Demand Higher Standards of Others Than Themselves.
C. They Do Everything For Show. Matt. 23:5;27
D. They Want Special Attention. Matt. 23:6-12
E. They Influence Others Negatively For the Kingdom.
II. Responding to the Counterfeit
A. Courageously, In Love, Warn Them. Matt. 23:37; Gal. 6:1
B. Prayerfully, In Truth, Examine Ourselves
Matt. 7:3-5; Ps. 139:23-24; Rom. 12:9; Matt. 18:15-17;
John 12:42-43; Acts 6:7
III. Restoring the Counterfeit
A. Forgive and Comfort Them. 1 Cor. 5:11; 2 Cor. 2:7;
B. Seek Truthfulness. 2 Sam. 12; Ps. 51
God wants this from us: No masks, No pretense, No shows. God desires a pure heart, truth in the inner parts, and a renewed steadfast spirit. To be truthful, we have all slipped into some kind of hypocrisy or counterfeit behavior at times. That is why God, in His love, sent Jesus Christ to die for us. Let’s make sure we embrace that love ourselves and warn others who forget it!
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Rom. 12:18 But, there are some people that are very challenging to live with – so let’s examine Jesus’ reaction to criticism & learn some practical steps in dealing with critical people.
I. Expect Criticism From The Critic
John 12:4-5 - If you dedicate yourself wholeheartedly to any task, those who are lukewarm are going to feel threatened or inferior.
- William Banowski - “It is an ancient strategy to divert attention away from one noble project and disguise selfishness by speaking of another project...”
-We live in an era that encourages criticism- movie, political, job, etc.
- Jesus was absolutely perfect and yet people criticized Him!
-“To Escape Criticism, Say Nothing, Do Nothing, Be Nothing!”
II. Inspect Motives of the Critic
John 12:6 - it is easier to cope with criticism if you know why
A. Some Criticize – And it is deserved. Prov. 15:31; 19:25 Criticism is often the foundation for improvement.
B. Some Criticize because they are wounded. Luke 6:27; Rom. 12:15
C. Some criticize because of jealousy. Matt. 27:18; 1 Cor. 3:3
D. Some criticize because it is a habit. 1 Thess. 5:11; Gal. 5:15
E. Some Criticize because they are selfish. Rom. 12:3,10,16
III. Don’t Always Answer The Critic
- Matt. 21:23 -27; Mark 14:60-61
- Don’t give credibility to the criticism by responding to it. - Phil. 2:14; 2 Tim. 2:14; 23-24. Be cautious in choosing what criticism to respond to and which to ignore- it takes wisdom and restraint.
IV. Refrain From Attacking the Critic
- John 12:7-8 - Some criticism hurts more -but don’t allow the critic to drag you down to their level. Speak truth in love, & guard your words carefully.
- 1 Peter 3:9 – Realize that Sometimes, kindness does not change people.
V. Stay Focused in Spite of the Critic
- John 12:7 - Keep the big picture and not allow the critic to distract you.
- Neh. 6:3-4 – “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down.”
Our mission is to do the will of God regardless of critics - 1 Cor. 15:58
Faithful unto Death
Genesis 46:28-30, 50:15-26
“Be faithful unto death & I will give you a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10) It is the will of God that we maintain our enthusiasm for living & our zeal for service right up to the very end until we hear him say, “Well done, good & faithful servant.” Joseph sets an example as one who was…
I. Faithful With Family
A. Joseph cared for his aging father even though his father was not
easy to live with. Gen, 46:28-30,34; 43:32; 37:35; 42:38; 45:28; 48:21; Eph. 5:16
B. Joseph introduced his family to Pharaoh even though they were
socially unacceptable. Genesis 47:3 -4
C. Joseph honored his father’s wishes to be buried in Canaan even
though the journey was long. Gen. 50:1-7; Eph. 6:2
II. Faithful With Work
A. Joseph Taught Dignity In Work - Gen.47:13ff; 2 Thess. 3:10
B. Joseph Made Egypt and His Employer Strong & Powerful
III. Faithful with God
A. Joseph was faithful in forgiveness…. Joseph shows kindness to his
brothers even after his father’s death. Gen. 50:17-20; Heb. 8:12;
Ps. 103:12; Romans 8:1; Acts 2:38
B. Joseph was faithful in remembering his roots… Joseph asks to be
buried in Canaan. Gen. 50:24-26; Exodus 13:19; Hebrews 11:22.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:16-18 Joseph was faithful even unto death – will we be?
Faithful in Forgiveness
Genesis 42:1-11, 45:1-7
“See to it that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Heb. 12:15) All of us struggle with bitterness at one time or another in our lives. If we’re not careful, that root of bitterness will grow up to sour our very lives and everything we touch. We need to learn from Joseph - he was faithful in forgiving his brothers.
I. Alternatives To Forgiveness
Legal Retaliation; Financial Retaliation; Verbal Retaliation; Physical
Retaliation; Retaliation Through Others; Cold Shoulder Retaliation
II. Joseph’s Response of Forgiveness
- Joseph did not immediately reveal himself to his brothers. Joseph
needed to determine if those half-brothers had changed. Gen. 42:7-8
- Joseph tested them with Hardship – He put them in prison 3 days
then held Simeon hostage until they would bring back Benjamin.
- The Brothers felt guilty about what they did to Joseph and think
God is punishing them. Gen. 42:21
- Joseph then tested them with Abundance – He gave them their
money back, threw a banquet, & fed Benjamin plenty. He had a silver
cup planted in Benjamins sack and then has him arrested – the
brothers pled for his release.
- Joseph weeps loudly, embraces the brothers, and forgives them.
III. Growing in Forgiveness
A. Don’t Retaliate - Let God Repay. Rom. 12:19
B. Do Our Part to Restore the Relationship - Rom. 12:20
C. Praise God for Our Spiritual Growth – Gen. 50:20
Joseph sets us an example in forgiveness for all of us to emulate. Will we grow in forgiveness as God desires? Will we be faithful in forgiveness?
Faithful in Good Times
The Bible is full of examples of people who began with a close walk with God but they drifted away when they became successful. The good times aren’t always so good spiritually speaking! Perhaps there is no better example of a man who handled fame, wealth, and power better than Joseph. Let’s look at Joseph’s faith story and learn.
I. The Good Times Roll For Joseph
Genesis 41 - The Cupbearer finally remembers and Joseph comes
before the King… He not only made an interpretation of the King’s
dreams; he gave a recommendation… At age 30 he becomes the 2nd
most powerful man in Egypt… He is suddenly rich & gets a powerful
signet ring & new wardrobe…he is transformed into a highly visible
II. The Good Times Aren’t Always So Good
A. Pride - Prov. 16:18; 1 Cor. 10:12
B. Indulgence - Luke 12:15, 1 Tim. 6:9, 17-18
C. False Security - Luke 12: 19-21
D. Distraction – 1 Tim. 6:6-10
III. Joseph’s Reaction To Good Times Teaches Us
A. He accepted the promotion willingly. Gen. 41:41; Prov. 29:2;
B. He was diligent for a prolonged period. Gen. 41:46; Gal. 6:9
C. He got married and he remained loyal to his wife. Gen. 41:45;
Prov. 5:15; Eph. 5:25
D. He used his position to benefit others. Gen. 41:56-57; Eph. 4:28
E. He remembered God and publicly gave him thanks without shame.
Gen. 41:51-52; Deut. 8:10-20
Let us remember… “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights...” (James 1:17)
Faithful When Tempted
Since there is so much promiscuity before marriage, since there are so many extramarital affairs, since there are so many families that are permanently scarred by sexual sin—we need God’s counsel on how we can be faithful to him when we’re faced with sexual allurement.
I. The Temptation
- Gen. 39:1-7 “So often after an U________ B__________ or G_______
A____________ comes a strong solicitation of evil.”
II. The Resistance To The Temptation
- Gen. 39:8-23 - One way to overcome temptation is N_____ G____
O______ the shock of how horrible it is.
- Gen. 39:10 “And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he R______ to
go to bed with her or even be with her.”
- Slow Fade – “It's a slow fade when you G_____ Y___________ away; It's a
slow fade when black and white are turned to G______.”
- “If you don’t intend on going in the house, stay off the front P_______.”
III. The Lessons Learned From The Temptation
A. God’s Standards are P____________; They Do Not C_________.
- Matt. 24:35; James 1:17 –God & His standard of M_____ does not change
- Liberal media defines “Tolerance”: You have to like & support it no
matter what, not doing so means you're a R________ or B_______.
- Romans 12:9 – Love… H____ what is evil and clings to that which is good.
B. Temptation is N__________ Even for the G_______
- J_________ was P________ …yet he was tempted
- Righteousness is not the absence of being tempted, but R__________
- “Take C_______ every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:5
- Erma Bombeck -“The grass is always greener over the S_____ T____ too!”
C. Victory is P___________ Through E_________
- Gen. 39:12; 2 Tim. 2:22; 1 Cor. 6:18 - F_______!
- 1 Tim. 1:18; James 4:7 1 Pet. 5:9 Don’t F_____ with Sexual Temptation
- You will not be tempted B_______ what you can B_____ - 1 Cor. 10:13
D. The Tangible R_________ for Overcoming Temptation Are Not Usually
- Gal. 6:7-9 - Let us not become weary in doing good…Don’t G____ U____.”
“He is no fool who exchanges that which he cannot keep for that which he can never lose.” – Jim Elliot
Faithful in Hard Times
Be faithful to God in Hard Times, during trouble, during the valleys and adversities of life…. Whether it’s something minor or whether it’s something major: Joseph was!
I. We Can Rise Above Domestic Disaster
A. Parents Can Make Poor Choices.
- Gen. 37:13 – Joseph’s Father failed him
- Gen. 37:4; 34:25ff – Joseph’s brothers were furious and dangerous.
- It is difficult for us to be objective about our own children
- We need to be alert to the spiritual dangers – 1 Pet. 5:8
B. Family Members Can Make Life Miserable.
- Joseph’s brothers betrayed and brutalized him. Gen. 37:13-31
- A mob often sinks to the level of its lowest participant.
- The brothers lost respect for Reuben. Gen. 35:22
- The brothers practiced deception. Gen. 37:31
II. We Can Make The Best of a Bad Situation
A. Life Can Suddenly Change for the Worse
- Joseph’s captors sold him into slavery. Gen. 37:28,36
- Job 5:7 – Accidents, Death, Sickness, Crime… All can happen quickly
B. Will We Bloom Where We Are Planted?
- Gen. 39:2 – Joseph worked and God was with Him.
- “When you walk with God, there are marks that even the people of
the world can see.”
III. We Can Learn Lessons From Hard Times
A. Life’s Comfort is Temporary – Be Thankful.
B. Life’s Difficulties Will Come – Be Ready.
C. Our Effort is Needed – Don’t Give Up.
- Gal. 6:9; Dan. 3:17-18 - Don’t give up when we don’t understand.
D. God is Always Faithful – Trust Him.
- Is. 43:2; Ps. 119:71 – There is no crown without a cross…
Will we become bitter or be