FOUR      LIFE      QUESTIONS

 It does not take a rocket scientist to look across our landscape and see many emotionally unhealthy people today.  Whether it is the endless parade of angry, bitter people highlighted on the latest afternoon talk show, the increasing rate of aberrant sexual behavior, or the systematic disintegration of the family, it is obvious that we are a nation with many unhealthy, insecure people.  

 Can this be changed?  Absolutely. However, it will not be through government programs, through scholastic education, or even economic revitalization. 

 It will come one individual at a time.  Each person must discover the answer to these four questions. 

 These are simple questions but will influence every relationship a person has.

Four Questions Every Person On Earth Wants Answered

DO I MATTER? –  Derivatives of this question are asked cosmically with questions like, “Am I an accident?”  “Was I Created?”  What does the World have to say about the origin of man? That we came from a pool of cosmic sludge, that we jumped out, jumped back in, jumped back out, grew legs, became a monkey and that we were on our way to becoming a man.  We have been told we were some cosmic accident.  There is no design or purpose for us here.  What does God’s Word Say?  That man is an intentional creation of God.  You individually and specifically important to God.  You Matter!

Psalm 139:13-16 “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous — and how well I know it.  You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.  NLT

AM I LOVED? – One of the greatest desire mankind want to know is a simple question of, “Am I loved?”  This question can be asked in ways such as, “Am I of Value?” or “Am I Appreciated?”

The Bible tells us that God loves and values each of us.  You individually and specifically loved by God.

Romans 5:6-11 “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s judgment.  For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God — all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.”  NLT

 WHY AM I HERE? – “What is my Purpose in Life?”  “Can I Make A Difference?” Have you discover why God made you the way He did?  He designed you with a specific purpose in mind.

Have you determined God’s Purpose for your life?    God has individual and specific plans for a great life for you!

 Jeremiah 29:11-14 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me.”  NLT

IS THERE HOPE FOR ME? – Once a person has determined that they matter to their Creator, that they are loved by that Creator, and that their Creator has a wonderful plan for their life, they want to know if they can change to fit that Plan.

What was cannot be changed . . . What will be is determined by the choices we make today.  There is hope!  Never forget that there is hope!

The past is not an anchor to bind you!

God has prepared a new life for you individually and specifically.  A life full of Faith, Hope and Love.

 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 “So we have stopped evaluating others by what the world thinks about them. Once I mistakenly thought of Christ that way, as though he were merely a human being. How differently I think about him now!  What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!”  NLT

 Parents, do your children know that they matter, are loved, and have purpose?    Does your spouse?

Teachers, do your students know that there is a plan and a hope for their future?  That they matter?

Employers, do your employees know they matter, are of value, and have purpose to you and your company? 

 When a person cannot answer these questions . . . they will not be able to maintain a balanced, healthy life.

 

***NOTE:   adapted from an anonymous outline I found years ago

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Bullies and Believers

Defeating bullying in our midst

Shedding the old Person and becoming a new Creation!

Becoming a BETTER person

The threat and effect of bullying is very real

  1. Bullying is a very real and present danger
    1. It is not harmless
    2. It is not a minor problem
      1. One life lost is too many
      2. One person destroyed is too many
    3. com reported that over 60,000 kids miss school because of bullying
    4. The American Psychological Association reported that 90 percent of 4th – 8th graders report being victims of bullying in some form
    5. Several school violence events have been sparked by bullying
      1. Columbine being the most infamous
    6. Bullying is really individual terrorism
      1. Wrecks lives
      2. Brings a life of fear to people
      3. Breeds rebellion
      4. Leads to fights
      5. Leads to suicides
      6. Leads to low self esteem
      7. Destroys character
    7. Bullying can take the form of:
      1. Spreading rumors
      2. Teasing
      3. Exclusion
      4. Threats
      5. Gossip
      6. Mean words
      7. Name calling
      8. Causing trouble at school, work
      9. Twisting truth
      10. Marginalizing
      11. Pushing people to the edges of social circles/society
      12. Oppression
      13. Slavery
      14. Taking advantage
      15. Hitting
      16. Kicking
      17. Pushing
      18. Other physical violence
      19. Stealing
      20. Damaging property
        1. Graffiti
        2. Destruction
      21. other
    8. Social Media has erupted as a major platform for bullies
      1. Same methods used but removed from the opportunity for reprisals/accountability
      2. Fake profiles used to hide
      3. Provides a “safe” and easy platform to use
        1. Post in the dark of night
        2. Apply settings that do not allow replies or comments
  • Apply the bullies context to photos or statements
    1. Usually that are different from reality
  1. Ability to use the person being bullied own pictures and information to set up a fake profile in their name
    1. Post lies
    2. Post destructive comments and statements
  2. Seemingly no accountability
  1. So many just give into the bully
    1. Surrender their power and life over to them
      1. In his book Fuzzy Memories, Jack Handey writes: There used to be this bully who would demand my lunch money every day. Since I was smaller, I would give it to him. Then I decided to fight back. I started taking karate lessons. But then the karate lesson guy said I had to start paying him five dollars a lesson. So I just went back to paying the bully.
        Too many people feel it is easier just to pay the bully than it is to learn how to defeat him.
    2. There is hope and help for those experiencing bullying and for the bullier
      1. One of my all time favorite TV shows, for having good moral lessons as plot lines, was the “Andy Griffith Show.” There was an episode where young Opie was having his “Milk nickel” bullied away from him and could not afford any milk for lunch. “You wouldn’t want me to get weak bones?” Well, Andy found out about the trouble and looked to find a way to help Opie without making Opie ashamed or dependent of his father’s help all of the time. In itself this is a good lesson to parents, children must learn, and earn, some things on their own in order for them to fully appreciate it later in life, but that is not our point in this illustration. Andy began to tell Opie about the time that Odie Snitch stole Andy’s fishing hole away from him when he was Opie’s age. Young Andy had to eventually face Odie Snitch to rid himself of his awful feeling of being “Lilly livered” and found that a punch in the nose didn’t really hurt when taken for a good cause and that bullies often can’t back up their words with deeds. Opie took the words to heart and faced down his extortionist the next day. Opie came away with a “Bute” of a shiner, but he didn’t even feel the black eye because the sweet feeling of the losing his trouble and regaining what was rightfully his.
        1. The point, you may ask? No trouble is as bad as it once seemed when completed than it did when we first dreaded and feared it.
        2. I would never advocate responding to a bully with violence, but it has proven worthy of our consideration. Not because of the violent act, but because of the empowering act of standing up for yourself, your person and your rights.
  • Taylor Swift said “If you’re horrible to me, I’m going to write a song about it, and you won’t like it. That’s how I operate.”
  • “Some people won’t be happy until they’ve pushed you to the ground. What you have to do is have the courage to stand your ground and not give them the time of day. Hold on to your power and never give it away.”
  1. Seek Help
    1. Counselors and Teachers
    2. Staff
    3. Law enforcement
    4. Pastors, Priests, Rabbi, etc.
    5. Friends
    6. Parents and family
  2. Get involved in team sports or activities
    1. Bands, athletic teams and other group activities promote acceptance, team work and family
    2. Being part of something positive is good for us
  3. Know who you are
    1. You are a masterpiece of God’s Creation
    2. You may not be perfect, but no one else is either
  4. Be patient, honorable and respectful
    1. Do not allow the bully pull you down to a low level
      1. You seek to improve yourself, to raise your character and reputation.
    2. Get to Know Jesus Christ
      1. He loves you
      2. He has a plan for you
      3. He took on the ultimate bully and was entirely victorious
        1. He did this for you!
        2. His stripes can heal your wounds
      4. Treat others the way you would like to be treated
        1. Many bullies are bullied
        2. Many bullies have a horrid home life
        3. Many bullies are poor
        4. Many bullies are jealous
        5. Many bullies have no power or control so they try to gain them over others
        6. Many bullies are raised or taught to be racist or sexist
        7. Many bullies are alone
        8. Many bullies are afraid
        9. Many bullies separate themselves from a mainstream they believe will not accept them and become involved in sub cultures
          1. Gangs

Anatomy of a Bully

  1. Afraid
  2. Socially awkward
  3. Jealous
  4. Weak
  5. Selfish
  6. Arrogant
  7. Angry
  8. Liar
  9. Deceitful
  10. Trouble maker
  11. Hurting
  12. Lustful
    1. Lust for power
    2. Lust for control
    3. Lust for people
      1. A boy usually teases the girl
    4. Killer
      1. Character
      2. Reputation
      3. Person
    5. Eager to do wrong
    6. Sow discord
      1. Cause division
      2. Break couples up
      3. Get someone fired

Scriptures

Proverbs 6:12-21 “What are worthless and wicked people like? They are constant liars, signaling their deceit with a wink of the eye, a nudge of the foot, or the wiggle of fingers. Their perverted hearts plot evil, and they constantly stir up trouble. But they will be destroyed suddenly, broken in an instant beyond all hope of healing. There are six things the Lord  hates— no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family. My son, obey your father’s commands, and don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. Keep their words always in your heart. Tie them around your neck.”  NLT

Living above Bullying  /  Believers Beating Bullying

Leviticus 19:17-19 “Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives Confront people directly so you will not be held guilty for their sin.  “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord . “You must obey all my decrees.”   NLT

  1. Don’t carry hate
  2. Talk to people you disagree with – DIRECTLY
    1. Not behind their backs
    2. Not gossip
  3. LET IT GO! Don’t seek revenge
    1. There is no prize for the amount of wrong you hold on to
  4. LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF
  5. Obey God

Christians should be working hard to teach and encourage:

  • Better friendships
  • More confidence
  • Individual courage
  • Servanthood – helping others
  • Being ok with who you are – being the person God made you to be
  • Better grades
  • Better health
  • Doing the right thing
  • Character
  • Citizenship
  • Morality
  • Unity

Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  NLT

  1. Love your neighbor
  2. Love your enemies
  3. Pray for those who attack you
  4. Do not take the easy road (love those easy to love)
  5. Rise above the culture and their influence
  6. Dare to be different

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

  1. Watch your mouth
    1. If you cannot say something good about someone then don’t say anything at all
  2. Do not use foul language. Profanity
  3. Do not use abusive language. Gossip, hate, lies, crude
  4. Use your words to encourage, not discourage or destroy

Micah 6:8 “No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”  NLT

  1. Do what is Right – by God’s standards – not mans
  2. Love mercy – love treating people right, whether they deserve it or not.
    1. You do not know their life
    2. You do not know their stress
    3. You do not know just how close to exploding they are
  3. Walk humbly with God
    1. Realize that you are far from perfect yourself
    2. You are flawed, faulty and failing
    3. Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. “

Romans 12:9-18 “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.  Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” NLT

  1. Really love others
    1. Don’t be fake
    2. Really care
    3. Be really committed to others
    4. Love is COMMITMENT – SACRIFICE – PASSION
  2. Hate what is wrong
    1. Hate bullying, not the bully
    2. Ephesian 6:10-12 “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
      1. Our bigger problem is not the people who are our problem
        1. They are but tool/weapons
          1. You do not blame the gun: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people
          2. You don’t blame the pencil: pencils don’t misspell words, people misspell words
          3. Behind every drug smuggler caught is a drug gang and leadership that enticed him, tempted him, threatened him and used him.
          4. Behind every murderer, liar, misspeller, and drug trafficker there is:
            1. A demand for drugs
            2. A darkness willing to provide them
  • A greed willing to exploit people and destroy lives to get rich.
  1. Our bigger problems are
    1. Satan and his minions
      1. Satan is the ultimate bully
        1. The “Anti Jesus”
        2. He is hate and destruction
        3. He is NOT on your side
        4. He wants to destroy you
      2. The “behind the scenes” dark rulers
        1. The ones who are pulling the strings
        2. The influences and addictions that spread darkness
      3.  Sin/flesh
        1. “The heart wants what the heart wants”
        2. Temptation to satisfy our flesh
          1. Food
          2. Sex
          3. Power
          4. Control
          5. Drugs/alcohol
          6. Arrogance
          7. Self
          8. Pride
    2. Honor each other
      1. Recognize other accomplishments publically
        1. Applaud others
        2. Build them up
        3. Look for the good
        4. Deal with their problems privately (Lev 19)
          1. Management says to reward publicly but discipline privately
  1. Be patient in Trouble
    1. Don’t “Fly off the handle”
    2. Don’t “lose your temper”
    3. You DO HAVE CONTROL
      1. You just may not want it
        1. So you let it roar.
      2. Keep praying
      3. Really help those who are in need
        1. Help the Bullied
        2. Help the bully
      4. Be hospitable
        1. Friendly and welcoming to strangers or guests
      5. Bless those who persecute you
        1. Be nice and helpful to the one bullying you
      6. Do not curse people
      7. Empathize with people
        1. Luke 10:30-37 “Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.  The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
          1. Bullying will happen
            1. Violence and meanness are reality
          2. If you see someone being bullied or hurting from a bully’s attack – HELP THEM
            1. Don’t go out of your way to ignore them
            2. Don’t look and ignore
              1. “Looky Loos”
            3. Get involved
            4. Help them
            5. Love your Neighbor
              1. The one you have come beside of
  • Stand up to bullies – on line and in person
    1. Be nice
    2. Be proper
    3. Challenge the lies
    4. Challenge the purpose
    5. Challenge the heart
    6. Accountability
      1. Own your words and posts
      2. Challenge them to own their
      3. Ask them the hard questions
      4. Ask why theirs is the only correct interpretation
      5. Ask why
    7. Live in harmony with people
      1. To be in agreement
      2. All the parts working together
      3. Romans 12:17-18 “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible.” NLT

Jesus took the Bullying so we would not have to!

Jesus was bullied by the government, the temple elite, the community business people, everyone

  • Matthew 26:47-56 “And even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people. 48 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” 49 So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss. 50 Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.”  Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 51 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear. 52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? 54 But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”  55 Then Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day. 56 But this is all happening to fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures.” At that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled.”
    • One of His own inner circle turned on Him
    • The temple enforcers came to be instruments of bullying
    • Another of Jesus’ inner circle lashed out in anger against those attempting to take Jesus
      • Jesus told him to stop
    • Jesus challenged the bullies who were after Him
      • Why here?
      • Why now?
      • Why out of town and out of the public view?
        • They were afraid to go after Him in public
      • In the face of this attack on Jesus, His closest friends FLED
        • Good friends don’t run
        • Good friends got your back
      • The “Sin Business” people were attacking Him (Paul and Silas…whatever you do to the least of these you do to Me) because they lost money
        • Acts 16:16-24 “One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a demon-possessed slave girl. She was a fortune-teller who earned a lot of money for her masters. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”  This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her. Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. “The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials. “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.”  A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.” 
      • Temple Elite were attacking Him because they lost power and influence
      • The government leaders were attacking Him because they felt they were losing power and control
      • The kings were attacking Him because they did not want their people worshipping anyone except them
      • The people were attacking Him because He was upsetting the “Status Quo”

Their bullying did not work out so well for them then, and it doesn’t work out so well today.

Romans 3:23-26 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.”  

John 3:16-17 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”   NLT

Jesus is the Anti-Bully

Philippians 2:5-11 “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  Instead,  he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.  When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself  in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

  1. Have the mind/attitude/love of Christ
  2. Follow Christ’s example
    1. He was EQUAL with God
    2. Yet, He CHOSE to lower Himself to our level
      1. He gave up the perfection of Heaven
      2. He came humbly to us, to the hog pen we had turned His earth into
  • Became human
    1. Think about that
  1. Humble
  2. Obedient
  3. Faithful
  1. Allowed the very ones He had created destroy His Human flesh
  1. You may think you are better than someone else but you are not

The Good News of Heaven

  1. There are no bullies in Heaven
    1. Every one there will bow before Jesus Christ
    2. He will be primary
    3. You will say He is the Ultimate and you are His humble sheep.

God made you with His own hands, formed you with His fingers; but when he finished shaping you He was not done, you were not alive yet.

God could have chosen to leave you like al the critters He had already made, but God had a greater love for you.

So God did something for you He did not do with any other thing on the planet…..

He powered you with a little bit of Himself!

He breathed into you and have you life.

God powered you with His Spirit.

You are God made and you are God powered.

You are special

January 28, 2018         Luke 22:1 – 6          Betrayed

Luke 22:1-6  “The Festival of Unleavened Bread, which begins with the Passover celebration, was drawing near.  The leading priests and teachers of religious law were actively plotting Jesus’ murder. But they wanted to kill him without starting a riot, a possibility they greatly feared.  Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples, and he went over to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them.  They were delighted that he was ready to help them, and they promised him a reward.   So he began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus so they could arrest him quietly when the crowds weren’t around.”

  1. The Passover celebration was approaching.  Celebrating the night the people who were protected by the blood were spared.
  2. There are people who we would THINK would be on God’s side, serving Him, doing things His way
    1. But are they?
      1. Leading Priests (elite, top, Boss Priests, senior)
      2. Teachers of the religious Law
        1. “Actively plotting Jesus’ murder”
      3. Sure sounds like they are ENEMIES of God
    2. Add to that group a DISCIPLE (follower) of Jesus Christ
      1. Filled with Satan
      2. Actively seeking ways to betray Jesus
    3. We quickly see that NOT everyone who looks, acts and talks the part of a Christian are indeed Christians.
      1. Not everyone you come across in life will have your best interest at heart
        1. No matter how “nice” they look
        2. No matter how much you seem to have in common
  • No matter if their goals seem to line up with your goals
  1. There are a lot of FAKE FOLKS out there and many are FIENDS!
  1. Have you ever had to deal with betrayal?
    1. Someone who told your deepest personal discussions
    2. Someone who turned you over to an enemy
    3. Gossip, lies, backstabbers, disloyal FAKE FRIENDS
      1. You wonder if you were set up from the beginning
    4. The saddest thing about betrayal is that in never comes from your enemies! It comes from friends and loved ones!
  2. Matthew 7:21-23 “Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’ but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. On judgment day many will tell me, ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized.’”  NLT
  3. When Satan enters into Lost folks he can twist and pervert their lives towards his ultimate cause to STEAL, KILL and DESTROY!
    1. NEVER doubt that satan is out roaming the world looking for people to tear down, trap in his trap and bring to death.
    2. Never doubt that satan is also out in the world looking for people to help in his evil.
    3. Christians cannot be “possessed” by satan or his evil
      1. Christians are a new creation – 2 Cor 5:17
      2. Our Spirit, Soul and Body are preserved for God blameless – 1 Thess 5:23
      3. Light cannot exist in the same space as dark
    4. This does not mean we do not sin, because we do
      1. It simply means that every Christian is a child of God, not satan and not the world.
      2. Satan will push you, confuse you, twist you, lie to you, challenge you, tempt you, and do whatever else he is allowed to do to USE YOU!
      3. But He CANNOT steal your soul, keep you or steal your salvation from you.
  4. BE CAREFUL WHO YOU SPEND TIME WITH!
    1. They may look ok, especially at first
    2. They may be being used by satan to EASE you away from God and His Love
      1. Its just a piece of fruit
      2. God didn’t surely say…..
      3. You can skip church one day….maybe two…
  1. Seek to spend time with GOD 1st then with HIS CHILDREN who have a lifestyle of faith and obedience…a TRACK RECORD of serving God. Good Fruit!
  2. DO NOT GIVE HATERS AUTHORITY TO HURT
  3. DO NOT GIVE BETRAYERS PERMISSION TO CHANGE WHO YOU ARE!
    1. RISE ABOVE
    2. You BE You
    3. You be the VERY BESY YOU GOD MADE YOU TO BE
  4. Reject the hate and lies
    1. Reject false friends
    2. Here is where it gets hard
      1. PRAY FOR THEM
    3. Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot
      1. He was betrayed by the Temple Elite
      2. He was betrayed by the Teachers of Religious Law
      3. He would be betrayed by the people who were WORSHIPPING HIM just a few days before
      4. He would be betrayed by billions through histories pages
      5. He is betrayed by US still today
        1. Yet He still loves us
        2. He still continued on the path HE KNEW would lead to His death and burial
          1. I would not have stayed that course
          2. Jesus’ love is greater than ours

10-8-2017                    Heart

Luke 21:1-5 “While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box.  Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.  “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them.  For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”   NLT

I find it interesting that this text is recorded right after Jesus tells us to “Beware of these teachers of religious law!” and one of the reasons given was that they “shamelessly cheat widows out of their property…”

These Temple Elitists would shame the small givers while smothering the big givers with praise and thanks.

Jesus FLIPS THE SCRIPT on the temple thieves yet again!

Jesus speaks of the HEART of a FAITHFUL GIVER

Our true heart is a major issue in our life

We cannot Love God and Love Others without giving…and risking our heart.

Proverbs 4:23 “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

Deuteronomy 11:16-17 “But be careful. Don’t let your heart be deceived so that you turn away from the Lord and serve and worship other gods. If you do, the Lord ‘s anger will burn against you.”

1 Samuel 12:20 “Don’t be afraid,” Samuel reassured them. “You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart, and don’t turn your back on him.”

  1. e poor widow gave out of her heart
    1. Her two small coins represented all she had
      1. But she wanted to give her all to God
    2. The rich people gave out of their surplus
      1. Not out of their income
      2. Not out of their faith
      3. …and you can bet they did it with flourish and an expectation of recognition
      4. You could infer here that if they had not surplus they would be giving no money
    3. Is our giving (money, time, talents, etc.) a gift of the heart?
      1. Is it about us?
        1. Are we giving EXPECTING anything?
          1. Value
          2. Special notice
        2. Is it about God?
          1. Faith
          2. Love
  • Obedience
  1. What little piece of obedience are we giving God while expecting great accolades?
    1. What are we willing to surrender to God?
      1. Funds
      2. Time
  • Self
  1. What are we UNWILLING to surrender to God?
    1. The One who created and provided everything we have
    2. What are we holding on to tightly?
  2. The poor widow gave everything she had
    1. Time
    2. Energy
    3. Faith, Hope and Love
    4. She was not forced, coerced, lied to or stolen from by the Temple Elite
      1. She gave from her faith
      2. She gave from her HEART
    5. All of her was poured out
      1. This is what God wants from us
        1. Whatever we have
        2. Whatever we are
          1. Surrender it all to Him
            1. It will be enough
            2. Even if the world thinks it is small
  • God will see it as a great gift

April 23, 2017:       Love is….minimum? OR  How DEEP is your love?

Luke 17:7-10 “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’?  Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’?   Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded?  So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'” ESV

When we are in love with someone we are willing to “go that extra mile” to make them happy.  We will spend the extra money and time to travel across the state just to visit them.  We will buy them something just because we know they will enjoy the gift.  We may…MAY…even take out the trash or do laundry without even being asked; just because we love them.

How much more should we be willing to give to GOD and serve God out of our love for Him?

Why do we make excuses?

Why do we figure out what our minimum financial gift will be?

Why do we struggle with spending time with Him in SS, Church, Prayer meetings, ministry events, revivals, Bible readings, prayer and more?

  • We like to be served
    • We like to take advantage of those who serve us
      • We don’t know them
      • We certainly don’t love them
      • We demand and demand
        • My drink has been empty for 48 seconds
        • I cannot believe this line is so long and the checker is so slow
  • We always want more
    • We want to feel more important
    • We want to feel more special
    • We want to feel more submission from those below us
      • We are an arrogant people
    • So much of our culture seems to be focused on doing the BARE MINIMUM – just enough to get by
      • How many widgets or sprockets am I expected to make
      • How long do I have to complete this task
      • How little can I do and keep the boss happy

We FAIL when we serve God with this attitude

    • How MUCH MORE can I do for my Savior?
    • Can I reach just ONE MORE today?
    • We should always serve Jesus with our BEST – not our MINUMUM!
    • When we only DO THE MINIMUM for God we should feel ashamed.
    • When we bring that attitude to the Cross – To Jesus – to His Church….. we become much surprised
      • We find that we have responsibilities to serve
      • We learn that we have the EXPECTATION to serve
      • We find out that God has a plan for our lives that includes service
      • WE SHOULD FIND that our LOVE FOR GOD leads us to EXCEED EXPECTATIONS in serving Him!
        • How would God rate your love for Him/others?
  • This is where our REAL ATTITUDE kicks in
    • This is where we find out HOW DEEP OUR LOVE FOR GOD REALLY IS!
    • This is when our FAITH kicks in
    • This is when our HUMILITY kicks in
    • This is when our LOVE FOR GOD AND OTHERS kicks in
      • Do we really LOVE God
      • Do we LOVE OUR IDEA of God
        • What HE CAN DO FOR US
          • How can God SERVE ME?

A man was invited to a wedding of a young lady he really didn’t know, although he had great respect and admiration for her father who was his friend. When considering the gift to give to the young bride, he considered that his gift was not so much about the bride, but about honoring the father of the bride. He concluded that you cannot honor the father by throwing pennies at the bride.

  • What is our life to be AFTER we are SAVED?
    • We are not SAVED to SIT
    • We are SAVED to SERVE
    • We are SAVED to SUBMIT
    • We are SAVED TO GIVE
    • We are SAVED to GO
    • We are SAVED to LOVE – Completely & Unconditionally
  • Do your Best
  • Do your most
  • Not out of DUTY
  • Not out of LEGALISM
  • Do all you can do OUT OF YOUR LOVE!
    • EXCEED the requirements of the LAW and the WORD
    • EXCEED the expectations of your religion and your pastor
    • EXCEED the expectations of even GOD
      • God sure did EXCEED our expectations

Last week we looked very closely at how GREAT God’s Love

is for you.  The question this week is how GREAT is your love for God?

Temptations Twist

Luke 17:1-4 “And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.  Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” ESV

  • Temptation is not sin…..temptation will occur
  • Temptations to sin: Scandal, snare/trap, occasion to fall
    • Maybe illustrate with large mouse trap and cheese
      • What could the cheese illustrate/stand for?
        • Anything that tempts us
          • Pride
          • Alcohol and/or drugs
          • Lust – adultery
          • Sexual immorality
          • Gossip
          • Jealousy
          • Anger
          • Rivalries
          • Dissensions
          • Other FLESH FUELED issues

 These temptations WILL COME

    • Do not think you are somehow above them
    • There is a price to be paid for giving into them
    • The trap will snap
    • Temptation is not sin
      • Giving INTO temptations trap is our problem
      • What baits your trap?
      • What are you likely to give into quickly?
    • Jesus was tempted BUIT NEVER SINNED
    • Adam and Eve were similarly tempted but fell into the trap

Matthew 4:4 – 11 “4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,  but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”  Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”  11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”  ESV

Hebrews 4:`4 – 16 “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

  • ESPECIALLY if you cause another one to stumble
    • Little Ones: least, little, less, small in size, quantity, number or dignity
      • Not just talking about kids
  • Pay attention to YOURSELVES!
    • Watch what you are doing
    • Keep an eye on your hands
    • PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY TO GOD
    • DO NOT BE A TEMPTER!
  • Pay attention to others
    • Hold them accountable to God’s Word as well
      • The caution is to GOD’S WORD
      • Not yours
      • Not your interpretation that fits your needs
    • Forgive the truly repentant
      • Forgiveness is not acceptance of the bad behavior
    • Temptations Twist
      • The Grace of God
        • Even though we did not deserve His Love…
          • We were rebellious
          • We were mean
          • We were caught by evil
          • Sinners, each and every one
        • ….at Calvary Jesus stepped into our trap and took our destruction away
          • Jesus suffered, was ridiculed and debased
          • Jesus shed His Blood for our sins
          • Jesus died in our place
        • We can be set free….redeemed by the shed blood of the Lamb of God