How to BLESS Other People

On November 7, Scott talked about how we can be a blessing to other people. The base passage was Genesis 12:1-3 but we found a lot of Scripture to support this blessing lifestyle.

1 Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed. – Genesis 12:1-3

The B in BLESS means Begin with Prayer – make a list of those for whom you are praying on a regular basis – And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” – Luke 10:2

The L in BLESS is for Listen – discover who they are and where they are by asking questions and listening – This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; – James 1:19

The E in BLESS is for Eat – share a meal with someone each week in hopes of getting to know them better – And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. – Mark 2:15

The First S in BLESS is for Serve – seeks ways to serve them in some way, demonstrating your love for them – For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. – Mark 10:45

The Second S in BLESS is for Story – you have two stories to share: YOUR story (which is your testimony) and HIS story (which is the gospel, the plan of salvation) – but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. – Acts 1:8

The Masks We Wear

On October 31, Scott talked about the Masks We Wear, from Romans 12:9-13. It’s fun to pretend to be something we know we are not in real life. However, pretending to be someone or something we are not must never be a way of life, especially in the church. We tend to hide behind the masks we wear, because if you knew the real me, you wouldn’t like me, and I’m not ready to take the risk of the pain of rejection.

M is for MEETING – we must be connected to one another relationally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually, and this is best done in the context of a small group experience.

A is for ACCOUNTABILITY – we must be connected to other followers of Christ who will hold us accountable for our spiritual life, marriage, and integrity.

S is for SACRIFICE – we know it will cost us something to live out our Christian faith. We live out our faith inside the church and outside in the community.

K is for KNOWLEDGE – we must seek to know all we can about living faithfully as a member of the body of Christ rather than believing that old saying, “ignorance is bliss.”

S is for SALVATION – we must embrace the fact that when we are saved by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, we now have a responsibility to act on that faith (to live it out) in front of a lost and dying world.

 

We showed this video at the beginning of the message:

Strengthening Your Mind


As Ken has been teaching in this series, we are reminded that the mind is the ultimate battlefield in this life. The Lord, our own flesh (that negative base side of who we are) and the enemy (the devil or Satan) are all battling for control of our mind. Why does the battle rage here in the mind? Because the Bible says, “For as a person thinks in his heart, so is he…” Proverbs 23:7, NASB.

We need to understand that the battle that’s raging in the mind is a spiritual battle. Ultimately, it’s a battle between good and evil for the control of our lives. Since this is a spiritual battle, we cannot fight in our own strength or use the common weapons of warfare, we must fight with spiritual resources, like what we find in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-18.

Today, I want you to know that…

  1. You don’t have to LOSE this battle for your mind!
  2. You don’t have to be DEFEATED in your walk with Christ.
  3. You don’t have to BE A SLAVE of worry, anxiety, your thoughts, feelings, or fear.
  4. You don’t have to BE CONTROLLED by the desires of the body!
  5. However, you CAN live your life under the control of the Holy Spirit, which allows you to win this battle for your mind!

How, might you ask? The first thing you need to know is that it doesn’t happen automatically! You have to take certain steps that will ALLOW IT to happen in your life, (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23; 1 Peter 1:13).

As we take the steps in 1 Peter 1:13 to “think clearly and exercise self-control,” we put ourselves in a position where the Lord can renew the mind. The word “transform” in Romans 12:2 and the word “renewed” in Ephesians 4:23 are both in the passive voice. They are something done TO and IN the child of God.

Secondly, we need to know that we don’t have to do this alone. We have the Lord’s promise in 2 Timothy 1:7, that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind, (or discipline). So, today, I want to take these few verses in Philippians 4 to show you Paul’s plan for victory in the battlefield of the mind.

I want to share with you five simple steps that teach us all about Strengthening the Mind. If followed, these steps will help us to build a wall of protection around our minds. These steps will help us to achieve victory in the daily struggles that we all face.

  1. BUILD THE WALL OF PRAISE (Philippians 4:4) – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

This repeated phrase in Philippians is Paul’s command for believers to “rejoice.” He uses this word in the imperative form, and it’s also important to note that he immediately repeats the command. This word means, “to be glad.” While not a Greek scholar, I discovered that this word is in the present tense, active voice, and imperative mood. All that means is, the believer is commanded to “keep on being glad in the Lord.”

Now, let’s face it, life is tough, and the events of modern life don’t bring much happiness! But let’s put this into context. When Paul penned these words, he was chained up between two Romans soldiers while in a prison cell. Even in the midst of this hardship, Paul knew that regardless of the circumstances of life, God never changes, God never leaves, and God never forsakes us. That’s why we are told to “rejoice in the Lord.” We don’t rejoice in the circumstances, he says to rejoice “in the Lord.” You see, people will change, circumstances will change, and life constantly changes, but the Lord never changes! He is constant, he is faithful, and he will always walk through this life right beside us.

Since this is true, we can learn to rejoice in who He is, what He has done for us, and what He is doing in our lives. Even if the road is hard, remember these facts…

  1. God has a detailed plan for your life, Psalm 37:23.
  2. God has promised to make all things work for good, Romans 8:28.
  3. God has promised to go with you through everything in life, Hebrews 13:5.
  4. God has promised you abiding victory, 1 Corinthians 15:57; Romans 8:37.
  5. God has promised you that the destination will be worth every step of the way, Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17.

Therefore, even when you can’t be happy about your life, learn to be happy in the Lord! Build this wall of praise around your mind! So our first step is to build a wall of PRAISE.

  1. BUILD THE WALL OF PATIENCE (Philippians 4:5) – Let your gentle spirit be known to all men...

The word “gentle” literally means “considerate or gracious spirit.” It has been translated in a variety of ways:

  • New Living translates the word “considerate”
  • Holman translates the word “graciousness”
  • King James translates the word “moderation”
  • The ESV translates the word “reasonableness”

This word has the idea of being patient with other people; or yielding to the rights and wishes of others. It does NOT mean we make compromises in our doctrinal beliefs in the name of tolerance, but it does mean that you have a willingness to take the back seat in favor of other people. This is the same idea that Paul introduces back in Philippians 2:4 – thinking of others as more important than yourself.

Paul is saying that the reality of our faith should be demonstrated in how we treat other people. If the focus of our lives is all about US, then when people hurt us, we’ll have a desire to retaliate and get even.

Paul wants us to take the focus off ourselves and put it onto other people. When we are focused on the people around us, we’ll be less likely to be hurt by what other people do. What they say won’t sting us so badly because we are not focused on ourselves. How they act can be passed over more easily when we focus on THEIR hurts, their situation, or their well-being. It has been said that “hurting people hurt people.” So, when people hurt us, we ought to seek to discover what is happening in THEIR life to have behaved the way they did. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is the right thing to do.

When we adopt the mentality of self-love (which is all around us) we will always look at the things people do and say, as a personal attack. It will cause us to wear our feelings on our sleeves and to be more easily hurt by the words and actions of others.

This will also cause us problems in the mind because we dwell on WHAT was done or WHAT was said. If we can learn to accept other people just as they are and overlook what they have done to hurt us, it will protect our mind from dwelling in negative areas. It will build a wall of protection around the mind that others cannot penetrate!

The bottom line is this, if we can learn to live in genuine contentment, as in Philippians 4:11, then it won’t matter what anyone says or does to us. The mind will be protected from the evil that it likes to find in others. The devil loves nothing better than to get your eyes off Jesus and onto the faults of other people! The flesh loves nothing better than to go along with the devil in accusing others and judging others. When this happens, the mind is in danger! So, our second step is to build the wall of PATIENCE.

  1. BUILD THE WALL OF PRAYER (Philippians 4:5b-7) – The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6 warns us against the dangers of worry. The word used for anxiety in the NASB, is translated in other places as “careful” or “worry.” The idea of “anxiety” comes from the term, “to be troubled with cares.” It refers to a state of mind that is agitated over the events and circumstances of life. There is nothing wrong with HAVING concerns (we all have them) but it’s when your concerns have YOU, that’s when the problems begin to spring up!

Worry is so dangerous because it allows the mind to create false ideas about God, others, and the world around us. Worry says, “God is dead!” or, “If there is a God, he obviously doesn’t care about me and my situation.” Both of those statements are false! God is certainly alive, Hebrews 7:25, and God does care, Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 5:7.

When the problems of life come our way, we are given some wonderful help in these verses.

  1. The Lord is near (Philippians 4:5b) – This refers NOT only to his second coming, but that He is always near to His children – Hebrews 13:5-6.
  2. Exercise the tool of prayer (Philippians 4:6) – Paul speaks of prayer, supplication, and requests. These might be thought of as, 1) general praying, 2) specific praying, and 3) detailed praying. The main point of this verse is that instead of worrying, the believer is to demonstrate his faith in the POWER and the WILL of God by seeking the Lord in prayer!
  3. Develop a thankful heart (Philippians 4:6) – Regardless of the situations you face in life, learn to praise the Lord through ALL of them. Nothing brings God nearer (or drives the devil away any faster) than a genuinely thankful heart!

The Lord’s promise to us is that He will replace our worries with HIS PEACE when we come before Him in trusting, humble prayer. The word “keep” or “guard” in Philippians 4:7 means “to garrison, or build a fort around, or to post a military guard.” The Lord promises to post a guard around the heart and mind of the person who trusts Him with the needs of everyday life. Instead of worrying yourself sick about things you can’t change, learn to lean on the Lord in prayer! Build this wall of prayer!

  1. BUILD THE WALL OF PURITY (Philippians 4:8) – Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Ken talked about this verse at the beginning of this series, so I won’t go too far into this point, but all of these words Paul uses in this verse are a clear picture of the Word of God. God’s Word is true – John 17:17. Since the Bible is true, everything it says fits within these categories mentioned by Paul. It is honorable, it is right, it is pure (holy, clean), it is lovely, it’s of a good report (good reputation), it is full of virtue (excellence) and worthy of praise (meaning, that which leans toward worship).

We must fix our minds upon the things of God. The SOURCE for discovering these things worthy of filling our minds is the Word of God. In other words, if we will fill our minds with the Words of God, there will be no room left for evil, no room for worry, no room for fear, no room for vengeance, no room for immorality, no room for confusion or trouble. A mind filled with the Word of God, and a mind led by the Word of God, is a stable, fortified, and strong mind!

So, if you want a stable, strong, and godly mind, the best place to get it done is with the Bible. We must take the initiative and challenge our mind to dwell on God’s Word and what it says, instead of allowing the mind to run toward evil, or gossip, or slander, or sexuality, or immorality, or other people and what they are doing, or even our problems. A mind saturated with Scripture and fixed upon the Word of God is a strong mind.

This is something that you have to do for yourself!

  • The church cannot strengthen your mind.
  • The church cannot keep you from dwelling on negative thoughts.
  • A Sunday School class or a small group cannot build a wall of protection around you.

No one is ever transformed when the motivation is external. Just like running a marathon, I can surround myself with encouragers cheering me on toward the finish line, but if I am not inwardly motivated to finish the race, I will give up, and will stop short.

The Christian life is very similar. If I am told what to do in order to grow spiritually yet fail to have the inward motivation of pleasing God in all that I do, or if I fail to walk in a manner worthy of being called a child of God, I WILL live a mediocre life.

How long will I be obedient to God if my motivation for Christianity is to avoid hell rather than loving and serving God out of a grateful heart and renewed mind? Strengthening your mind is something that YOU do to yourself, it is not something done TO you or FOR you. So, build the wall of PURITY.

  1. BUILD THE WALL OF PRACTICE (Philippians 4:9) – The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Do you notice how relational this verse is? Sometimes we think it reads, “If you want the peace of God, do the things I taught you.” This is not like a class or a sermon where we take notes; it involves walking through this life with other people. The Christian faith is caught more than it is taught. We grow and live within a faith community.

Paul tells the Philippians to practice the things they had seen and heard in his life. For us, it’s NOT that we have it all together, like we’re perfect in this life. Perfection is a goal, because it will never happen this side of heaven.

You’ve heard the phrase, “Practice makes perfect?” Well, that statement is wrong. If you practice it wrong, you will NOT get it right. Ask any musician. The real truth is in a modified phrase, “Practice makes permanent.” As you practice the rift on the guitar or the violin, you may start out slow, even at half speed, but you HAVE to get it right before you practice, practice, and practice some more. If you learn it wrong, you will always play it wrong.

If you want permanent change in your life, you may start out slowly, but the more you practice it under the accountability of a trusted mentor or friend, the more permanent the transformation will become.

So, we have spent the past few minutes building walls in order to strengthen our minds:

  1. THE WALL OF PRAISE (Philippians 4:4)
  2. THE WALL OF PATIENCE (Philippians 4:5)
  3. THE WALL OF PRAYER (Philippians 4:5b-7)
  4. THE WALL OF PURITY (Philippians 4:8)
  5. THE WALL OF PRACTICE (Philippians 4:9)

So, let’s have some time for reflection. Maybe bow your head in the quiet of this moment and let God’s Spirit speak to your heart and mind. What are your next steps?

NEXT STEPS: Consider these questions…

  1. Which wall is needed most in your life right now?
  2. Name a person who is spiritually mature that you will seek out this week to help you grow in that area.
  3. How will you begin to make changes in your life so you can strengthen your mind?
  4. WHO will you tell about this personal commitment, and the need for accountability?
  5. WHEN will you seek out this accountability person?

Your mind is a precious gift from God. It can be used for good or for evil, and all the forces of good and evil are battling for your mind all the time. Who wins the battle is always determined by YOU! No one can control your mind, but YOU. We are told in the Bible that we need to strengthen our mind, it is OUR job, individually, and it cannot be passed off to another person. We are in cooperation with the Holy Spirit to conform to the image of Christ. We can’t outsource that responsibility.

This is a very critical matter, because how you THINK determines how you will LIVE your life, Proverbs 23:7 (As a person thinks within himself, so is he, NASB). Until the mind is settled, all of life is out of control – remember the words of James 1:8. (a double-minded man is unstable in his ways), so I challenge you to strengthen your mind!

Let’s Pray About It: Lord Jesus, you know better than anyone that I need a stronger mind. I recognize that apart from you, I can do nothing, so please, help me to grow in my faith, renew my mind, and become more effective in my Christian walk. I confess my failures and seek your forgiveness. Lord, help me submit to your lordship, embrace your ways, and do your will.

Father, for those who have not yet begun their journey of discipleship, let them seek you earnestly, because your Word tells us that you WILL be found when we seek for you with all out heart.

Father, this time is yours. Help us to make commitments and give us the strength to follow through, especially when life get hard. We pray this in Jesus’ name, AMEN

CLOSING: Thank you for joining us today. If you made any commitments this morning, let us know about it. You can contact us using the church website (kgbc.us/more). Know that your staff prays for you, and we hope that you’ll make prayer for one another a regular activity each week.

Anticipate Eternity

2 Corinthians 4:13-15

Pastor Ken’s series, Beyond the Faint Heart, is all about this challenge from the apostle Paul to live life to the fullest, in God’s will, being a part of the Lord’s calling and commission, and to not lose heart or become faint when life gets difficult. At times we feel that following Jesus ought to be rewarded by God and that life could be a little easier, with less struggle, after all, we are doing what God’s desires. We’re the one following Christ! We’re the ones who are seeking to please God in everything we do. We’re the ones trying to sin less. We’re the ones seeking to live in obedience. And because of this, life can be hard and we can easily get discouraged.

Hard times ought to be for those who refuse to follow Jesus. We totally understand the Proverb, “the way of the transgressor is hard.” (Proverbs 13:15). But in real life, it seems the transgressors have it easier than those who have been adopted into God’s forever family. There’s little wonder why many of God’s people might lose heart.

Down through the ages, God’s people have been persecuted, for nothing else than for just being God’s people. As it was for the Jews, so it is with the church throughout the centuries. In the grand scheme of things, it really has little to do with the church and more to do with sinful humanity rebelling against any authority that God has over their lives. If people want to eliminate an invisible God from the public square, the next best thing to do is to attack his visible representation, his church. People may attack us, but deep down, their hatred is for God more than it is for us. Remember the words of Jesus when he spoke to Paul of the road to Damascus, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4).

So, how do we NOT lose heart when life gets difficult? When the world seems to go against us at every turn? We all tend to get discouraged at times, but what are we supposed to do?

Ken has been addressing this topic over the past 6 weeks, but today, I want to challenge you to anticipate eternity. It really is amazing what people can endure when they have hope that something in the future will make our life experiences worth it. Remember our Savior, “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2). We ALSO can endure a lot when we have our eyes fixed on Jesus, fixed on eternity.

Let me tell you a story about hope…

When I was in college, I read a book written by Viktor Frankl called, Man’s Search for Meaning. I pulled it out again a few years ago and was reminded of its significance in my life.

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author, and Holocaust survivor. He was the founder of logotherapy, a school of psychotherapy which describes “a search for a life meaning” as the central human motivational force.

I personally admit, as a high school student so long ago, it was this search for meaning in life that brought me to Jesus, but THAT is a story for another time.

Frankl’s book is about survival. Like so many prominent German and East European Jews who thought themselves secure in the 1930s, Frankl was cast into the Nazi network of concentration camps. Miraculously, he survived, but his story in this book is less about his own struggles, (what he suffered and lost), than it is about the sources of his strength to survive. Several times in the book, Frankl quotes the words of Nietzsche: “He who has a WHY TO LIVE FOR can bear almost any HOW.” He vividly describes fellow prisoners who gave up on life, who had lost all hope for a future, and were inevitably the first to die. They died less from lack of food or medicine than from lack of hope, lack of something to live for. By contrast, Frankl kept himself alive and kept hope alive by summoning up thoughts of his wife and the prospect of seeing her again, and by dreaming at one point of lecturing after the war about the psychological lessons to be learned from the Auschwitz experience. Clearly, many prisoners who desperately wanted to live did die, some from disease, some in the crematoria. But Frankl’s concern is less with the question of why most died than with the question of why anyone at all survived.

Now here we are. Ken has been teaching us over the past 6 weeks, Paul’s spiritual lessons on how to not lose heart, how to overcome discouragement, and today the lesson is on anticipating eternity.

For Christians, we are people of hope. When Jesus was born into this world through the incarnation (God becoming Man), the first Sunday of Advent is all about Hope. God’s people patiently waited for the promised Deliverer, the Messiah to come. He would be that person who would act like a great hinge on the door of history, finally making right all that had gone wrong in the world. God’s people would be set free forever, no longer in bondage to any other nation or power. Christians get this because we recognize that this world is not our home, as it says in Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;” Eagerly waiting for our Savior… that is anticipating eternity… knowing that heaven awaits us. This life is not all there is. The best, really is, yet to come.

So, what are a few ways in which we anticipate eternity? Our passage for today reminds us that, He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. (2 Corinthians 4:14)

To help us remember what I talk about today, let’s use the acrostic HEAVEN. Let’s get to it…

H – is for Heaven itself. Heaven is a real place described in the Bible. The word “heaven” is found 276 times in the New Testament alone. Scripture refers to three heavens. The apostle Paul was “caught up to the third heaven,” but he was prohibited from revealing what he experienced there (2 Corinthians 12:1-9).

If a third heaven exists, there must also be two other heavens.

The first is most frequently referred to in the Old Testament as the “sky” or the “firmament.” This is the heaven that contains clouds, the area that birds fly through.

The second heaven is interstellar or outer space, which is the home of the stars, planets, and other celestial objects (Genesis 1:14-18).

The third heaven is apparently the dwelling place of God. Jesus promised to prepare a place for true believers in heaven (John 14:2). Heaven is also the destination of Old Testament saints who died trusting God’s promise of the Redeemer (Ephesians 4:8). Whoever believes in Christ will never perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

In heaven, the paradise of the Garden of Eden is restored: the river of the water of life flows freely and the tree of life is available once again, yielding fruit monthly with leaves that “heal the nations” (Revelation 22:1-2). However eloquent John was in his description of heaven, the reality of heaven is beyond the ability of finite human beings to describe it (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Heaven is also a place of “no mores.” There will be no more tears, no more pain, and no more sorrow, no more separation, because death will be conquered (Revelation 20:4, 6). The best thing about heaven is the presence of Jesus (1 John 3:2). We will eventually be face to face with the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and because of HIM, we can enjoy His presence in heaven for eternity.

E – is for Evangelism. This is how we secure our ticket into heaven. Paul tells us in Romans 10:13-15, for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved. 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent?” Evangelism is nothing more that telling others about the good news of God’s salvation. As believers, we all have a story to tell of what Jesus has done for us. We are his witnesses (Acts 1:8) and have the awesome responsibility and privilege of telling others how to find the life that we have experienced.

A – is for Anticipation. It’s not that we are ready to pack our bags and head off to heaven right now, after all, we have a life to live here and now. The Bible has many references to “eagerly waiting” for the Lord’s return. A few moments ago, I mentioned Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;” Did you catch that? Eagerly waiting.

The return of Jesus Christ will be like the coming of a thief in the night. Two passages use the wording “a thief in the night”:

Matthew 24:43, “Understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into,” and

1 Thessalonians 5:2, “You know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”

How is the second coming going to be like a thief in the night? Just as a thief catches a household by surprise, Jesus will catch the unbelieving world by surprise when He returns. Before they know it, Judgment Day will be upon them, and then, it will be too late.

As believers we don’t fear, but rather anticipate his coming, so it should not catch us by surprise. Christians are in a separate category: (1 Thessalonians 5:4) – “But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.

These who are unsaved should listen to Jesus’ warning: “Be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:44). How can you be ready? Well, God has provided the way for you to escape the coming judgment. The way to the Father and everlasting life in heaven … is Jesus. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by me.” By accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are guaranteed forgiveness of sins, mercy, and salvation.

V – is for Victory. If we plan to overcome discouragement, the Bible tells us point blank how to be an overcomer… in Revelation 12:11, “And they overcame him (the devil, Satan, the accuser) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony …” We have victory through the blood of Jesus, by what he did on the cross to provide salvation. We also have victory by the word of our testimony. When the accuser comes after us, we SPEAK UP to remind him of OUR salvation, and the devil’s ultimate destination. As we share our testimony with other people, we also remind ourselves what God has done for us, and that we have made the conscious decision to follow Jesus. The enemy really has no power that we don’t give him.

E – is for Entreaties. I know, that’s a weird word. But take a look at 1 Timothy 2:1, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,” King James translates this word “entreaties” as supplications. It’s an old-school word meaning “asking God for stuff” but I’m seeing this point in the outline as communicating with God. When we communicate with God through prayer, we are developing our relationship with him, and because of THAT, we are preparing ourselves to spend eternity with our Lord and Savior.

We need to “be a praying people,” more than just “people who pray.” Let me explain the difference. We can easily become people who pray. We pray at mealtimes, during church services, and when we find ourselves in a jam needing God to bail us out. Christians pray. But we know plenty of people who are NOT Christians, they also pray. The next level for believers is to “be a praying people.” This is when we stop and pray for those who ask for prayer. Right then and there. I’ve been with people who hear my prayer concern and the next thing I know this other person is talking to Jesus! I want to be that person. We need people who will spend the hour of 9am and 11am each Sunday praying for our pastor, his message, for the congregation as we engage (or for some, disengage) with the service; let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to move among us. May we be a praying people, and not just people who pray. Finally…

N – is for New Birth. If you really want to anticipate eternity, you have to be born again. This new birth is not automatic simply because of John 3:16 (that God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten Son) or because of Romans 5:8 (that God demonstrated his love for us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us). At our physical birth, we are all born with a sin nature that separates us from our Creator. We were designed in His image (Genesis 1:27), but that image was tarnished when mankind fell into sin. As sinners, we cannot fellowship with a holy God the way we are. We cannot be repaired, restored, or rehabilitated. We need to be reborn. No one makes it to heaven without this new birth through Jesus. Paul reminds us that we are saved by grace through faith, it’s not about any good works that we might do. We cannot earn our salvation but must receive his grace and the gift of salvation by faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. The shed blood of Jesus brings forgiveness from sin and reconciliation with God.

Maybe you just today have come to understand that in order to overcome discouragement and move beyond the faint heart, is to anticipate eternity, but you realize that you are in no way prepared. Let’s talk about how you might respond to the message you’ve heard today.

It may be that you’re responding to God’s offer of salvation.

You may be making a decision to change and allow God to transform your life into what he desires.

Maybe you sense God leading you toward membership in this church. Let God have this time as we consider what he has to say to each of us today.

Let’s pray about it…

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, this time is yours. Many of us have entered this place with heavy hearts, ready to give up in discouragement. Through your word you have reminded us that our best life is yet ahead of us. The joy we have in this life is that we do not go through this life alone. Thank you for walking with us, giving us meaning in life, giving us a community of faith, and preparing us to one day spend eternity with you in heaven. Help us to keep our vows of transforming into the image of Christ. Forgive us when we have failed you. Help us to repent of our desire to go in our own direction rather than allow you to lead us through life. May we submit to your lordship and the mission to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a lost and dying world around us. Forgive us for not keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. It is in his holy name we pray, AMEN

Thank you for joining us today. If you’ve made a commitment to Jesus, we’d love to hear about it. Check out this website and use our digital connection card or prayer request form. We’d love to hear from you. Ken is back next week to finish this series “beyond the faint heart” – don’t miss it.

If you have not yet done so, maybe consider joining us for live worship on Sundays at 9am or 11am. We’d love to see you in the house.

If you’ve not found a small group, I can help you find one, after all, life change happens in small groups.

Raising the Next Generation

Conversations With Jesus – Luke 6:40

Welcome to part 5 of Ken’s teaching series called Conversations. Today I am going to talk about The Greatest Teacher – Jesus’ conversation about raising the next generation. – Luke 6:40 (this is also my tribute to moms on Mother’s Day)

Let’s take a look at what Jesus is teaching his disciples in Luke 6. Beginning in verse 20, Luke records his equivalence of the sermon on the mount, with his version of the beatitudes (Luke 6:20-26).

And THEN Jesus spoke a parable to them in Luke 6:39-40, when he tells us that the blind cannot guide the blind. Why? Because they will both fall into the pit. You know what this tells me? Since I am all about discipleship, I think that it is accurate to say that we CANNOT lead someone in discipleship to a place that we have not yet gone. That’s not an excuse to never attempt to disciple someone but it IS a strong challenge to lead by example. As followers of Christ, we are called to lead people to greater depths of devotion to Jesus and to spend our lives in the pursuit of conforming to the image of Christ. We must be willing and committed to do whatever it takes to look more like Jesus. It doesn’t happen by accident but on purpose with determined intentionality.

OK, let me get to my intended verse because Luke 6:40 is the starting point for my message today… “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”

So, this message today is going to focus on what Jesus said about raising the next generation. In context, Jesus is talking about the rabbi-follower relationship, discipler-disciplee, mentor-mentee, but on this Mother’s Day, I think this verse can speak to us about what parents do for their children. If we don’t do anything else, our kids will generally turn out much like us. They follow our example, it’s NOT just what we SAY but what we DO.

I remember a commercial when I was a kid, a dad and his son were in the front yard washing the car. The little boy of 5 or 6 does exactly what the dad does… washing the fender, scrubbing the tires, wearing the baseball cap, all with the narrator repeating the phrase, “like father, like son.” Then they sit down at the base of a tree in the front yard and dad grabs a pack of cigarettes, and as the son reaches for the pack that daddy just laid down, the narrator asks the question, “Like father, like son?”

Our kids are watching us. Moms and dad not only have the awesome responsibility of raising the next generation of citizen in America, but they are raising the next generation of Christians in America. As we look around our country today, what sort of followers of Jesus are we producing? Are we making disciples or do we settle for making good little church attenders? Are the kids in the church today just learning moral lessons from the Bible or are they encountering and learning about the God of the Bible? Do they know the reason they were created and the responsibility they have for reaching those who are far from God and even those who have little or no access to the gospel?

Remember what I said a moment ago, it is very difficult (if not impossible) to take someone to a place we have not yet gone ourselves. We cannot pass on that which we don’t embrace. Our kids will never learn how to have a quiet time if they don’t see us having regular times for devotional reading and praying. They won’t learn how to share the gospel if we don’t share the gospel. They won’t learn how to disciple someone else if no one ever discipled them.

Maybe this sounds familiar… when asked in a social situation, “what do you do?” I’ve heard some moms say something like, “I’m just an at-home mom.” Well, let me remind you what mom’s do at home…

  • First, let’s give mom a creative title. Domestic engineer? Household CEO? Director of child development? And how about the activities an at-home mom does?
  • Teacher: Mothers teach children their first words, colors and shapes. They continue to enrich their learning by helping them with their homework and school projects.
  • Chef: The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes the role of a chef as one who develops recipes, plans menus, orders food inventory, and ensures sanitary kitchen conditions. That certainly sounds like a mom.
  • Event Planner: Even the busiest mom squeezes in time for fun. Whether it’s planning a themed birthday celebration, coordinating schedules with extended family for the holidays, or signing kids up for recreational activities, moms constantly have something to do and somewhere to be.
  • Housekeeper: Maintaining an orderly house can be quite the daunting task for a mother. There is no shortage of things to clean or organize, whether the children are toddlers or teenagers.
  • Accountant: In most households, moms perform many accounting functions such as creating and balancing a budget, paying bills and identifying cost-saving opportunities.
  • Chauffeur: Moms also serve as chauffeurs by providing hours of transportation for kids to and from doctor appointments, school, shopping, and play dates.
  • I read a statistic that if moms received an annual salary for all of their responsibilities, they would earn an estimated $78,000 a year.

But, let’s refocus on Christian moms and dads. Luke 6:40 reminds us that a pupil (or child), after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. How do we as parents invest in our kids for the kingdom’s sake. Aside from any teaching and training that will turn our kids into socially acceptable citizens and productive members of our community, let me suggest these 6 things to be a part of ANY parental curriculum. Here is my acrostic for the day. M.O.T.H.E.R.

Mission – Acts 1:8but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

Think about your goal as a Christian parent. It’s not about raising a socially acceptable and productive member of the community. Your goal is not for your kids to have a great education. It’s not to be a great athlete. It’s not to have them participate in wholesome dating. It’s not to have a great career. It’s not about getting them out of the house on their own, making lots of money.

The goal of Christian parenting is for your kids to embrace the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and live out the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40). We teach our kids to love God with their whole being and to love others as themselves. The Great Commandment leads to the Great Commission and the fact that God uses ordinary people like US to spread the love of Jesus to those with little or no access to the gospel.

I love Acts 1:8 because we don’t do any of this alone, we have received the power of the Holy Spirit to be his witnesses. This verse reminds us that our mission field is in our own city, state, country, and the world. It’s not about one place over another but doing all four at the same time. Notice Jesus used the word, “both” in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. We tend to see the command as a buffet line… Jerusalem or Judea or Samaria, or the ends of the earth. Pick one.

Jesus told the disciples, and tells us, that they WILL be his witnesses,” meaning if you carry the name of Jesus, you are his witness. We don’t go out and DO witnessing, but we ARE witnesses. If you’re a believer, you’re a witness and can tell others what Jesus has done for you. The only choice we have is between these two options… will we be a GOOD witness or a BAD witness?

As parents, our first priority is to instill in our children that we are on mission with God, no matter what our vocation, marital status, or personal hobbies or interests. Once we understand our mission, it leads us to the next part of raising the next generation…

Obedience – John 14:21He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.

We teach our kids about obeying us (as parents) and obeying teachers, and those in authority (like police) but we often find ourselves telling our kids that obedience to God is optional. Perhaps we justify it by thinking like this… the standard of Jesus is perfection, we can never be perfect, so why try? Or maybe we say, my salvation is not based on my performance (like my obedience) but on the work of Christ on the cross, so obedience must therefore be optional.

Read John 14:21 again… keeping his commandments is a sign of our love for God. If you love God, you WILL keep is commands. When we love God, we will be loved by the Father. Jesus said that if we keep his commands, HE will love us and he will disclose himself to us. If you don’t feel like Jesus is revealing himself to you, try obedience! When we obey his word, Jesus will disclose himself to us.

Walking through life in obedience is something that is caught more than it is taught. We have heard the phrase, “do as I say and not as I do” but our kids see how we are living. They know if we simply put on the mask of Christianity on Sundays or they see that we’re fully committed to Christ and his mission throughout the week.  

Teaching – Matthew 7:28-29 – When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

If parents don’t do anything else, teaching is the thing that they do the most. It seems that day after day, all we do is teach our kids about life, relationships, dating, work ethic, trade skills, vocational skills, study skills, sports skills, coaching, board games, fishing, household chores, homework, you name it. We teach all the time.

But how do we prepare our kids for life’s ultimate final exam? When you stop learning, you stop growing, and all living things grow. Parents must make it a priority to teach their children the WILL and WAYS of God. Nothing will draw a child closer to God than seeing mom and dad taking steps of faith, walking in obedience, especially when it is difficult or uncomfortable. Actions really do speak louder than words.

You’ve heard it said that we should never let a crisis go to waste. It is through the crises of life that we find the greatest teaching opportunities. Take advantage of difficult times to help your kids walk in faith and trust God. Lead by example. Set the pace for your family.

Humility – Mark 10:45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

The culture and the world will teach your children to look out for Number One. They justify this type of teaching to emphasize and develop a positive self-esteem in children. Now, if YOUR kids were anything like MY kids, I didn’t have to teach them how to be selfish, that seemed to come naturally. Kids think the world revolves around them. It’s part of the fall of mankind. We make ourselves to be most important and we desire to be the master of our own destiny, the center of the universe, and sit upon the throne of our own lives. But is that the example of Jesus?

Our Lord and Savior did not seek power, prestige, or position so he could manage or rule over others. Jesus taught that we are supposed to serve others rather than serve ourselves or have others serve us. This is the essence of humility.

We must teach our kids to look out for the interests of others more than themselves. Just how do kids learn this? By seeing the example of their parents. Again, set the pace for humility in your household. Give your life in service to others.

Evangelism – Mark 3:13-14And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. 14 And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach

Jesus spent the whole night in prayer before he called his 12 closest men to be his disciples. We often think of these guys as super-Christians and we can’t expect to live up to the standard they set, especially in the areas of ministry and mission. I love this Mark passage because of what Jesus called them to do.

We often focus on the last section, that he called them to send them out to preach, which is an important part of their mission, but notice the phrase just before that. He called them “to be with him” and THEN he sent them out to preach. This is the “with him” principle.

We need to walk through this life with Jesus, learn from him, and then pass on what we have learned to others, especially to our kids and those within our circle of influence. We learn from him, then we go out to make a difference in the world around us. Make a difference for the kingdom of God. All this leads up to our final point, which is…

Relationship – Luke 24:14-15And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them.

Christianity is nothing if not about relationships. First there is our relationship with the Father through the Son. This relationship is all about salvation. Our next relationship is with other believers. This relationship is all about fellowship. Our third relationship is with a lost and dying world. This relationship is all about evangelism and mission, which we have previously covered today.

We can teach our kids to be successful in the world but unless they understand these key relationships in life, they are no different than your average lost person. Notice what is included in the Luke 24 passage…

In context, this story is part of the disciples on the Road to Emmaus. Look what takes place…

They were talking with each other about the things that had taken place. How often do you talk with your kids about spiritual matters? About how you came to faith in Christ? About how God has moved in your life this week? About how Jesus gave you opportunities to make a difference in someone else’s life? About ministry opportunities or a mission experience? Faith is caught more than it is taught, and it is caught by talking about life together.

Along with talking about and discussing spiritual matters, Jesus approached them and began traveling with them. He took the initiative. The Christian life is not so much about the destination (heaven when we die) as it is about the journey and the path we walk. We go through life as a family, whether in our physical family of blood relatives or our family of faith (or what I like to call them, my forever family).

In Christianity, there are no “lone ranger” disciples. We are in this thing together. The body is made up of many parts and we all work together for the body to function properly. Christianity is about community, and at its core, this means relationships. We need to be connected with one another.

I think this has been the hardest part of this year of COVID. Our relationships have suffered. We have drifted apart. I feel many people have come to the conclusion that gathering together as the church or a small group or a Sunday school class was not really as important as we had made it out to be all these years.

“I have made it just fine without getting together.” I can have my “worship on demand,” any time I want; when it’s convenient for me. I don’t need for my class to get together; e-mail is just fine for me to keep up.

So, what does Jesus teach about raising the next generation? Look over these 6 areas. Which one do you need to focus on first? What can you do this week that will help you get back on track? How will you pray differently this week?

When we realize that the life we have been given is not about US, then we find freedom. We are called to be a good steward of the life we have, as one who will give an account for what we have done with that which we have been entrusted.

On this Mother’s Day, let us all remember why we are on this planet. If you are a follower of Christ, your life is NOT about YOU, but it’s all about being an ambassador for Christ and being his witnesses locally, and even around the world. Let’s reflect on what God may be saying to us right now.

PRAY: Lord Jesus, we recognize that life is hard, and without question, it is distracting from what you have called us to do for the kingdom’s sake. Father, open our eyes to the opportunities all around us as we go through this life. May we see you at work and seek to join you in in your mission to reach through who are far from you. Help us to seek the one who is lost. Help us to raise the next generation to love you extravagantly. May we set the pace for our families and our community. May we run the race set before us and not grow weary. May we fight the good fight and finish well. Father, we know we fall short but plead your mercy and grace, to encourage us to stand strong in our calling to salvation and our calling to be your hands and feet in this world. May we be salt and light. In Jesus name. Amen.