Week 2: Not Many Fathers

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We love our community and want to show the love of Christ tangibly in our neighborhoods, workplaces and homes. This summer, through weekend sermons, small group curriculum and daily devotionals, we will discover how serving can make a difference in our community, makes an impact for God and grows our faith. Join us as we discover significance through serving.


A lot of the books in the New Testament were letters written by Paul. He wrote to churches and pastors. Paul also planted churches, that’s why he was called an apostle. Paul planted a church in the city of Corinth. This city had a lot in common with America. They were very intellectually arrogant, prosperous and wealthy and had a lot of immorality, just like America. Paul established this church and they started doing some crazy things. Paul wrote the book of Corinthians to correct them.

“I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.”  1 Corinthians 4:14-17 (NIV)

Because of Paul’s deep love for these churches he planted, he considered the people in these churches to be like his children. He was their spiritual father and a father is supposed to admonish, discipline and correct children.

One of the most painful parts in a person’s life is when you start talking about a father that was horrible; not only for the things that happened, but also for the things that didn’t happen that you wish would have happened. The devil wants to destroy the relationship that God designed for your growth and your maturity.

God intended you to have a relationship with your fathers: your natural father, your spiritual fathers and your Heavenly Father.

Your relationship with your mother is extremely precious, but it cannot replace your relationship with your father. God designed it that way. That’s why the devil attacks this relationship so much.


The last verse of the Old Testament. The verse that sets up the coming of Jesus, summarizes the problem of why Jesus even needed to come.

“He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”  Malachi 4:6 (NIV)

God intends for us to be blessed. That’s why all of hell is committed to messing up all your relationships, specifically the relationship with your father. That’s why we have stories about hurt, abuse and disappointment from a father figure in our life. This is such a big deal that research offers us proof about how crucial this father relationship is.

  • Fatherless homes, fatherless children are:
    • 5 times more likely to commit suicide
    • 8 times more likely to go to prison
    • 9 times more likely to drop out of high school
    • 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances
    • 20 times more likely to have behavioral problems
    • 32 times more likely to runaway
    • 33 times more likely to be seriously abused
    • 73 times more likely to be fatally abused
  • Fatherless homes produce:
    • 90% of all homeless and runaway children
    • 85% of all children with behavioral disorders
    • 71% of pregnant teenagers
    • 71% of high school dropouts
    • 70% of juveniles in state operated facilities
    • 63% of youth suicides
  • Daughters of fatherless homes are:
    • 53% more likely to marry as a teen
    • 92% more likely to divorce if they marry
    • 164% more likely to be a single parent

Those statistics break the heart of God. This is not the life He desires for us. So what are we going to do about this? For every problem on the planet, for every problem you face, God has the solution. Here are some principles to help you in this area. Some tools to help you get you started on the processes that can be worked out over time. It is a spiritual journey of growth you will work on most of your life. Take these three steps and God will do a great work in your life.

1. Allow God to heal the father wound.

Your Father wound may not be from your biological father, a spiritual father, a teacher, coach or some other authority figure who disappointed you, abused you or hurt your feelings.

In John Eldredge’s book “Wild at Heart,” it says that when you have a father wound, you become a poser. You pretend to be something that you are not.  Because you are trying to make up for something that you are not. It usually comes out in one of two ways: you either become overly passive or overly aggressive. When a man becomes overly passive, the wife has to run the home, raise the kids, take care of the finances and the guy is basically in charge of the remote. Because of his woundedness, the guy just gives up. Men who are overly aggressive, bully everybody. In their insecurity and woundedness, they pose as “tough guys” and assert themselves with an overly aggressive attitude, not because they are tough but because they are broken. What do we do about it?

“Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”  James 5:16 (NIV)

Notice the last two words of this verse. You need to … be healedIn fact, I would go so far as to say that every one of us needs inner healing in some kind of way. The question is how do we get this healing? 

The first part of the verse says to confess your sins to each other. It doesn’t say to confess them to God. If you confess your sins to God you get forgiveness, but that is not God’s formula for healing.

God’s formula for healing is confessing your sins to another person and pray for each other.

There is a miracle that occurs when you get close enough to another person to that you can take the mask off and confess your hurts and needs to another person. You are only as sick as your secrets.

As soon as you allow the truth of your hurt to come out, your healing begins.

Get into a small group or a Celebrate Recovery Step Study. Not so you can go through another bible study, but so you can get connected into deep relationships with other people and take our masks off. Some of you have confessed your hurts to God and you have been forgiven for years but you have never found healing because you have not followed God’s process for inner healing. As soon as you share and are prayed for, you begin the process of great healing in your life.

2. Find a father and be a father.

No one had a perfect dad. We all have a father wound. Our father’s had father wounds. Our grandfathers had father wounds.

Look around and find someone who can be a father figure: a coach, a mentor or an encourager in your life. Find someone who can be a positive role model for you. Don’t stay fixated on your broken relationship with your father; instead, find good, positive men that can speak into your life. Have conversations with them, watch how they treat their wives, kids and friends, watch what kind of decisions they make. Find these guys at church, in your small group or serving on a Dream Team.

This guy might be someone you will never meet. There are parenting, financial and marriage experts out there. Read their books and listen to their podcasts. Instead of focusing on the disappointments and wounds from your biological father, shift your focus to positive role models.

There is more to this second step than just finding a father. If you are truly going to be healed, you’ve got to be a father. Get involved in someone else’s life. Be a small group leader. Get involved in Rock Brook for Kids. It will minister to you even more than it does to them.

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing.”  Psalm 68:5-6 (NIV)

We are fatherless. There are not many fathers. What is God doing about it? God sets the lonely in families, Small Groups, on Dream Teams. If you don’t have a biological father then get connected with a spiritual family. God wants to set you in a new family and in some new relationships that will provide you with everything you have been missing. Often times when we are hurt or wounded we think the solution is isolation. God says the solution is not isolation, the solution is to establish new, healthy relationships.

When you do that, “he leads forth the prisoners with singing.” They’re not prisoners anymore, they have found freedom.

You find freedom by getting connected in relationships with other believers.

God wants to set you in a relationship that can move you from being a prisoner to singing. Some of you are walking around in a prison of pain that is more binding than a prison of bars. God wants to set you free! He does it by setting you in a family.

3. Relate to God as Father.

When Jesus addressed God, He called Him Father. When Jesus taught us to pray, He taught us to pray to Our Father, who art in heaven. Jesus said that the key to a powerful prayer life is to address God relationally not religiously.

“Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in heaven. He never changes or casts a shadow.”  James 1:17 (NLT)

Look at the last phrase of this verse. God never changes. Everyone changesBut God never changes. No matter what happens, He never kicks you out of the family. He loves you. He never changes, He never casts a shifting shadow. That means he never turns his back on you.

“He chose to give birth to us by giving us His true word. And we, out of all creation became his prized possession.”  James 1:18 (NLT)

God doesn’t want you fatherless. Allow God to heal the father wound. Make the decision to change from fatherlessness to finding a father and being a father. And seek to relate to God as Father.


Check Back

How did the following truths affect your relationship with God this past week?

  • The first purpose of my life is to be loved by God!
  • My first calling is to enjoy a relationship with God.
  • The relationship God made me for is to be his son or daughter.
  • The #1 thing I need to understand and remember: How much God loves me.

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Read: 1 Corinthians 4:14-17 (NIV) and Malachi 4:6 (NIV)

The “fatherlessness” of our generation has led us down a path that’s far from how God intended. His intention is that we would be blessed by our fathers. No matter our experience with our earthly fathers, we have the promise of God to be set in families through our church family. This week’s message encourages us, men and women alike, to look to fathers in our life and to be a father to someone else so that we can begin to change our generation!

Application

  • We shared a list of statistics on how “fatherlessness” has affected the youth of our generation. Discuss why fatherless homes have had this affect on our culture. What can we do to change that?
  • Every man needs the affirmation of another man. Discuss why men are wired to need that, and why certain affirmation can’t come from women in their lives.
  • Read Psalm 68:5-6. Discuss how God sets the lonely in families and how He is a Father to the fatherless.
  • Read James 1:17-18. Discuss how God, our Heavenly Father, loves us and desires that we would see him as Father. Why is it so important that we relate to Him as Father?
  • There are three father relationships: natural father, spiritual fathers and Heavenly Father. Whether your natural father is living or deceased, what are you most thankful they shared with you? What short-comings do you need to forgive in them?

Tell Someone Else

Acknowledge your spiritual fathers this week. Think about who God has put in your life to father you and thank them this week. If you can’t think of who they are, begin looking for spiritual fathers that will pour into your life and pursue relationships with them. Then find some people in your life that you can be a father for and begin investing in them.

 

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Week 1: The First Purpose of Your Life

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We love our community and want to show the love of Christ tangibly in our neighborhoods, workplaces and homes. This summer, through weekend sermons, small group curriculum and daily devotionals, we will discover how serving can make a difference in our community, makes an impact for God and grows our faith. Join us as we discover significance through serving.


Today, let’s take a look at our first responsibility as a Christian, the first thing God expects of you. Let’s start by reviewing God’s nature and God’s purpose for the whole world.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is (real) love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  1 John 4:8-10 (NIV)

Love is not only something God does, it is something He is. The only reason you are able to give or receive love, is because our Creator is a God of love and He created us in His image. He loves you on your bad days as much as your good days. He loves you when you feel it, when you don’t feel it.

He will never love you any more than he does this very second. He will also never love you any less than he does this second. 


Our Motivation For Serving

Let’s take a look at four fundamental statements for your life and ministry from the Bible. Before you step out to serve anyone, before you step out to love anyone, this is your motivation.

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The first purpose of my life is to be loved by God. God made you to love you. We think our first purpose is to serve, give, witness, read, or do stuff for God, but your first duty is to be loved by God.

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My first calling is to enjoy a relationship with God. Everyone who is a Christian is called. If you’re called to be saved you’re called to serve. The call to salvation, ministry and mission are all the same call. Life is not about the role you play, the responsibility you have or the rules you keep. Life is about the relationship you have with God.

“To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people…”  Romans 1:7 (NIV)

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The relationship God made you for is to be His son or daughter. This is not God’s plan B. This was God’s plan from the beginning of time. Don’t doubt your worth. He did it all so He could love you and that would give Him glory. He did it all because he loves you that much. He doesn’t want slaves or workers, He wants children.

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”  Ephesians 1:4-5 (NLT)

The Creator of the universe had a secret plan, a mystery. The plan was that God wanted to adopt you into His own family, He wanted you to be His daughter or son.

Before you serve God, you need to be a child of God. You’re not a worker bee, you’re a child of God. The further you get away from God, the further you get away from your identity. This is why so many people are in an identity crisis today.

The closer you get to God, the more you see your identity.

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The #1 thing you need to understand and remember is how much God loves you. It affects all of your relationships.

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”  Ephesians 3:17-19 (NLT) 

God’s love for me is…

  • Wide Enough to be everywhere.

God’s love is wide enough to be everywhere you are. There will be times you feel alone, but you’ll never be alone.

  • Long Enough to last forever.

Human love wears out. God will never stop loving you. Don’t put your purpose and security in something that can be taken from you, otherwise, you’re not secure. If you want real security you have to put it in something that can’t be taken from you and there’s only one thing that cannot be taken from you, God’s love.

  • Deep Enough to handle anything.

If you’re going to go through struggles, suffering, loneliness, or problems, God can handle it. You may even feel like you’re in a pit. God’s love is deeper still. There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper.

  • High Enough to cover my mistakes.

The Bible says God does not deal with us as we deserve. It also says that love covers a multitude of sins. Regardless of what you’ve done, God offers to forgive us so we can start over.

Love comes through Jesus Christ. He is the way to the Father’s love. There is only one way to God’s love, and it’s Jesus. You may come to Jesus through pain, loneliness, with a question, with a problem, in prison, but you’ve got to come through Jesus for God’s love.

If you felt completely and unconditionally loved by God every moment of your life, your life would change. Some of your fears or anxieties would fall away. Some of your competitiveness, envy, pride would be affected if you truly felt loved by God.

God’s love is so powerful because it invades your life and is so strong, it can break strongholds that have been there for years. It can soften hearts and wreck pride. It’s so powerful. So what happens when your life is motivated by God’s love?


When You Are Motivated By God’s Love…

1. You stop feeling pressured to perform.

The pressure to perform means I feel like I’ve got to prove myself. I’ve got to show God how good I am. Until you feel God’s love, you will constantly be evaluating everything you do, thinking you don’t measure up. This is the number one cause of burnout. Forgetting how unconditionally God loves you.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him…”  Colossians 2:6 (NIV)

This verse says that the way you got saved, is how you stay saved. The way you got into God’s family is the way you serve God. It doesn’t change after you get saved. You received Christ by grace through faith. You walk with him by grace through faith too.

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”  Romans 5:1 (NLT)

At some point in you life someone is going to tell you that you’re saved by works, but there is nothing that you can to do to be saved. Even if you could do it, then why did Jesus take that punishment? This sets you free from the pressure to perform.

2. Internally, you feel accepted, rather than ashamed.

If you feel shame, it’s not from God. God’s desire is to set you free from shame and condemnation. You may be convicted by the Holy Spirit of a sin, because he loves you, but shame is not from God.

“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 8:1 (NIV)

3. You become bold in bringing your needs to God.

If you’re not bold, you don’t understand the rights you have as a child of God. One of the things that astounded people about Abraham Lincoln is how he gave his son, Tad, access to the White House. He could be in a cabinet meeting or war strategy meeting and Tad would just walk in. His dad would pick him up and hug him. Because of their  relationship. That’s the relationship you were meant to have with God.

“This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.”  Ephesians 3:11-12 (NLT)

You don’t have to pray wimpy prayers. You don’t have to knock. Just barge in. Tell God what you need.

4. You have unmistakable peace during conflict.

A sign you know the love of God is, when everyone else is losing their head, you know God loves you. When everyone else is panicking and freaking out, you’re calmly confident. At times of unmistakeable hurt and offense, you have the peace that passes understanding. My identity is not tied up in what is going on around me. I know God loves me deeply.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:7 (NIV)

5. You gain the courage to take bigger risks.

If you understand how much God loves you, your fear goes down and you have the ability to step out in faith.

“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”  1 John 4:18 (NLT)

The less you understand God’s love, the more fear you will have. The more you understand God’s love, the less fear you will have.

6. You find yourself worshiping more and worrying less.

Worry is the warning sign that you’ve forgotten how much God loves you.

“It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”  Philippians 4:7 (MSG)

Worship is the opposite of worry. Worry focuses on you and what you don’t have. Worship focuses on how much God loves you.

Worship is enjoying God’s love for you and expressing your love back to Him.

The problem isn’t that you don’t love God enough, your problem is you don’t understand how much God loves you. If you did, you can’t help but want to love Him, express His love, worship Him, serve Him or share Him.

“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.”  Isaiah 30:18 (NIV)

If you do the right thing with the wrong motivation, you’re not going to last. If what you are doing is based on anything but the love of God, it’ll eat you up.

“May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.”  2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NLT)


Check Back

Do you have any more thoughts after reflecting on our birthday message, “Look Up. Look Back. Look Ahead.”?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Start out by reading 1 John 4:8-10 (NIV)

Before we talk about loving others, serving Christ and serving others, we have to understand that the first purpose of our life is to be loved by God. Our first duty as Christians isn’t to do anything. This changes our motivation for serving. These should be our driving motivations for serving…

  • The first purpose of my life is to be loved by God!
  • My first calling is to enjoy a relationship with God.
  • The relationship God made me for is to be His son or daughter.
  • The #1 thing I need to understand and remember: How much God loves me.

When you are motivated by God’s love…

  1. You stop feeling pressured to perform.
  2. Internally, you feel accepted, rather than ashamed.
  3. You become bold in bringing your needs to God.
  4. You have unmistakable peace during conflict.
  5. You gain the courage to take bigger risks.
  6. You find yourself worshiping more and worrying less.

Worship is enjoying God’s love for me and expressing my love back to him.

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message?
  2. Which of the six things, do you find yourself struggling with the most? How could God’s love help?
  3. Is there something you feel led to do, but fear is holding you back?
  4. How could this understanding of God’s love change your prayer life? Are you praying bold prayers? Are you telling God what you need?

Tell Someone Else

God loves the people around you just as much as he loves you. Who can you share this life-giving message with? Who can you encourage with God’s love?

“May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.”  2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NLT)

 

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Look Up. Look Back. Look Ahead.

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As we celebrated our 21st birthday weekend, we pushed pause to celebrate where we’ve come from and where we are going as a church.

Look Up. Look Back. Look Ahead.


We are a church that loves Jesus deeply. We love each other. We love seeing people transformed by the gospel. At Rock Brook Church, lives are being changed.

“You call out to God for help and he helps—he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living. Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know.”  1 Peter 1:17-21 (MSG)

On this journey of life, you’ll never have to be reminded to look down. You have to remember to look up every once in awhile though.

Our focus is on this life, these problems, these pains, these difficulties, these days. You have to remind yourself, this is not all there is. There’s more going on than you think there is. No matter what season you are navigating, look in these three directions to travel this journey with a deep consciousness of God.

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We can Look Up to the Most High God. The title, the Most High God, is important to God. He is the highest possible object of our worship. Man-made gods or man-made desires cannot compete with Him on any level.

In 1 Samuel 5 the Lord demonstrates that He is God Most High. The Philistines captured the Ark of the Lord. The Ark is what held the ten commandments and the mercy seat so the Israelites could atone for sin. This was necessary before the Cross. The Philistines set it beside their idol, Dagon, in his temple. The next day, Dagon had fallen over before the Ark. The Philistines set their idol back up, and, the next day, it had fallen again, this time breaking off its head and hands. The Lord Most High was proving to the world that no god can stand beside or above Him.

“For you, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.”  Psalm 97:9 (NIV)

We Look Up because we know that:

“…true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are his.”  Job 12:13 (NLT)

True wisdom doesn’t come with experience or age. True wisdom doesn’t come from time by yourself in nature or from hard work. True wisdom belongs to God and is found in God. So we regularly need to Look Up, for there is none above Him.

There’s another direction we can look that is helpful to travel this journey with a deep consciousness of God.

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We must Look Back and see that God is faithfulMost people forget what they should remember and remember the things they should forget. Jesus said he was sending an advocate, the Holy Spirit, to be our divine reminder to remind us what Christ has said and done, the blessings we’ve been given, the price Christ has paid and how loved we are by Him.

 

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”  Deuteronomy 4:9 (NIV)

“I will sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever! Young and old will hear of your faithfulnessYour unfailing love will last forever. Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens.”  Psalm 89:1-2 (NLT)

Once we look back to see that He is faithful, how He’s rescued us and pulled us out of our sin, then we can Look Ahead believing He is able.

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The faith that enables us to move forward is in the faithfulness of God. As we’re on this journey and we come to a place where we don’t think we can go on, we can look ahead with faith knowing that we’re not about to turn back now.

“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’ He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.’ Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'”  Luke 9:57-62 (NIV)

Jesus says, “If you’re looking back for an excuse or to disqualify yourself, you’re not fit for this kingdom. Because He’s doing a new thing and we’re moving forward.” 

You don’t have to go back to that old sin. You don’t have to go back to those old ways. You don’t have be enslaved by the past. There is a hope and a future and a calling in following Jesus. We want to help you find it.


Vision

As we look ahead, on this birthday weekend, let’s talk about our vision, our hope for you.

Vision is the ability to see what’s ahead.

KNOW GOD

Jesus said when praying to God, this is salvation, that they know youThat word “know” doesn’t mean understanding. It means a relationship. Not that you know of God, but that you know Him.

Our Weekend Worship Services are designed to make Knowing God possible.

This is where you can take your first spiritual steps. You can be introduced to God. You can give him your life. Take your next step of being getting baptized. You may be reading this and be nowhere near Belton, MO. The, find a church that wants you to Know God each time you step in their doors.

Once you know God, he gives you the power to settle some of the junk that’s in your heart. You can get saved and still have junk in your heart. You can be going to heaven and still have addictions and habits and wounds and hurts that are just ruining your life. It’s the second step in our journey.

FIND FREEDOM

Hands down the best way to Find Freedom is in an honest relationship context. 

Life change happens in relationships.

Let’s stop playing church and let’s get real. You don’t have to share the real you with everybody, but share with somebody! At Rock Brook, we have two ways that you can find freedom and fulfill God’s purposes in relationships.

Find Freedom by joining a Small Group.

Ultimately we want you to get close enough to someone so they can help you conquer that thing, whatever that is for you. 

Celebrate Recovery exists so you can find freedom from any hurt, habit or hang-up and live fully alive in Jesus.

Once you Know God and Find Freedom from the past, you can look ahead without having to look back. Once that’s wiped clean you can see your calling.

DISCOVER PURPOSE

When you find your purpose, life takes on new meaning. In four steps, we can help you discover why you are here on earth. We call those steps, Growth Track.

Growth Track is designed to teach you the purpose of the church and how to connect to God relationally so you can discover what your spiritual gifts are.

You can’t do it alone. So you join the body of Christ and you get on a team.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Making a Difference is what you’re life is all about. The people at Rock Brook making a difference are called the Dream Team. They’re teaching kids, playing instruments,  keeping people safe, feeding people, putting on blood drives, setting up and cleaning to make a way for others and helping other people take these steps. Our Dream Team makes a way for others to Know God.

The Dream Team is a where you can find your place and Make a Difference.

Next week, we launch our summer season at Rock Brook. It’s a season of serving. Here’s what coming up-

Why I Serve – a sermon series starting next week (June 9-10, 2018)

A Place to Serve – summer small group curriculum available in our church lobby

Serve Day – on July 14th we will offer a church-wide serving opportunity to make a difference in our community

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Let’s take a look at the dream God has laid on our hearts for Rock Brook church as we look ahead.


It Is The Dream…

It is the dream of a place where the hurting, the depressed, the frustrated, and the confused can find love, acceptance, help, hope, forgiveness, guidance, and encouragement.

It is the dream of a group of people who gather together with eagerness, passion and enthusiasm to worship, treasure and lift up the name of Jesus Christ.

It is the dream of welcoming people into the fellowship of our church family. A church family so full of the spirit of Christ that you can tangibly feel the sense of grace and second chance when you are around them. A church family that is loving, learning, laughing, and living in harmony together.

It is the dream of a freedom so rooted in Christ that it produces the fruit of spiritual maturity. A desire to lead one another to the truth of God’s word. A love for the word of God and radical generosity as we give of ourselves in response to the word.

It is the dream of equipping every believer for a significant ministry by helping them discover the gifts and talents God gave them. Anyone can make a difference, no matter how unqualified they feel, or how broken their past.

It is the dream of a church so passionate for the lost, like a parent who’s lost a child, nothing will stop them nor stand against them as they share the Good News of Jesus Christ with their neighbors, their nation and their world.

It is the dream of Rock Brook Church to be unified around these purposes of God.


Check Back

Do you have any more questions or conclusions after reflecting on our last series, The Time Is Now?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

“You call out to God for help and he helps—he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living. Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know.”  1 Peter 1:17-21 (MSG)

  • Look Up to the Most High God.

“For you, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.”  Psalm 97:9 (NIV)

“But true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are his.”  Job 12:13 (NLT)

  • Look Back and see that He is faithful.

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”  Deuteronomy 4:9 (NIV)

“I will sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever! Young and old will hear of your faithfulnessYour unfailing love will last forever. Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens.”  Psalm 89:1-2 (NLT)

  • Look Ahead believing He is able.

“Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'”  Luke 9:62 (NIV)

Application

  1. How has being connected to a local church made a difference in your life?
  2. Is there anything in your life you are putting above God?
  3. Look back over your life, what are some ways God has been faithful?
  4. How do you feel as you look ahead in the journey that is your life?

Tell Someone Else

  • Who can you share this life-giving message with?
  • Is there someone you can invite to church with you?
  • Is there someone who would benefit from a small group?
  • Is there someone who you could go through the Growth Track with?
  • Is there someone who would serve on the Dream Team if they were asked by you?

 

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Part 3: The Blessing of Obedience

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Hate to break it to you… there is no blueprint for a perfect life. All of us have things in our lives that need to be restored. Feel like you’ve hit a wall or hit rock bottom? Don’t be discouraged. Maybe it’s just part of what God wants to help you rebuild.

This weekend, we talked about obedience. We don’t obey God so we can be blessed, we obey God because we love Him.


In the book of Haggai, the people’s attitudes show us we all battle some of the same things. Have you ever felt like you were trying to do what God asked you to do, but things just aren’t going well? You’re doing what you were told, but not making progress. You’re trying to obey God, but your life isn’t working very well. Is it really worth it to follow God? Is it worth it to serve?

This is what happened with the Jewish people. They were trying to build the temple and it was not going the way they thought it would. They wondered if it was even worth it to obey God. Here’s the problem we all face.

  • Conditional obedience to God.

Conditional obedience says, “Okay God, I’m in as long as you’re delivering. God, I’ll obey as long as it doesn’t cost me too much. God, I’ll do what you want me to do as long as I see the results I want to see. But if it makes me uncomfortable, is inconvenient, or you’re not doing what I think you should do, at this point God I pull back.”

God does not give us options to consider, He commands us to obey.

We’re going to see how God clearly shows the corruptive power of sin to his people. God tells Haggai the prophet to ask the priest some questions.

“‘If one of you is carrying some meat from a holy sacrifice in his robes and his robe happens to brush against some bread or stew, wine or olive oil, or any other kind of food, will it also become holy?’ The priests replied, ‘No.'”  Haggai 2:12

The priest, when they were going to sacrifice, would carry the holy or sanctified meat in their folded up robe. If they touched something else while carrying that sacrifice, the holiness didn’t rub off. 

Then Haggai asked, ‘If someone becomes ceremonially unclean by touching a dead person and then touches any of these foods, will the food be defiled?’ And the priests answered, ‘Yes.'”  Haggai 2:13

He’s showing that sin is like a disease. Sin spreads easier than holiness. It’s the corruptive power of sin. Paul said it this way in the New Testament:

“Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33

He didn’t say good company cleanses bad character. He said that there’s the corruptive power of sin. You could say that sin is like spaghetti sauce. It stains everything that it touches. Because they turned away, their hearts were going after other interests and not after God.

“Then Haggai responded, ‘That is how it is with this people and this nation, says the Lord. Everything they do and everything they offer is defiled by their sin.'”  Haggai 2:14

If your heart is not right, it doesn’t matter what you do. Parents know this is true. When one kid does something wrong to another kid so you have kid one, apologize to kid two. Kid one walks up and says,”SORRY,” and walks away. Does that count or not? No. Right thing, wrong heart.

Attitude matters. If your heart isn’t right, whatever you do is wrong. You tell God you will obey Him, as long as He does what you want Him to do. As long as things are working out for you. As long as it doesn’t cost you too much or it’s convenient for you. This is the wrong approach to God. 

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It’s all about the heart. We do not obey God for what He’s going to do for us, we obey God because of who He is. We obey God because we love Him. This is why getting our heart right matters so much.


God Reminds His People

If you read part 1 of this series, you remember this about the Jewish people:

“He said, ‘Before you build the foundation…'”  Haggai 1:15

Before they laid the foundation that’s where they were. They were drinking, but still thirsty. They were eating, but not full. They were putting their money in pockets with holes. They were doing everything to have meaning in life, but they were still empty. Are you accumulating stuff and having as much fun as you can, but still feel like there’s something more? Are you working your tail off, and not getting ahead?

“When you hoped for a twenty bushel crop, you harvested only ten.When you expected to draw fifty gallons from the wine press, you found only twenty.”  Haggai 1:16

You thought you were going to get paid so much, but when your paycheck came it was half of that. It’s not working like you thought it would be.

“God says, ‘I sent blight and mildew and hail to destroy everything you worked so hard to produce…”  Haggai 1:17

Ok, ouch! God told them that the reason they didn’t get ahead is because He didn’t let them. Why in the world would a good God stop us from having provision when we’re doing everything we can just to survive? What kind of God is that? Is that a God that I want to serve? Is that a God that truly loves me?

“…even so you refused to return to me says the Lord.”  Haggai 1:17

There is it. There’s the reason. God is not trying to punish His people. God was trying to restore His people, that was His goal. God may not change your negative situation, because God is trying to change your heart. Not every bad situation comes from God. We live in a sinful, broken world and bad things happen, so if there’s something bad going on in your life right now it’s not because you deserve it, and God is trying to get your attention.

There are times when our hearts are turned away from God, but God may send something with the intention of bringing our hearts back to Him. What God did shows His love for us. All he did was cut off their supply. Notice he didn’t make them sick. He didn’t kill their kids. He didn’t do something cruel, He just cut off their supply. To get their attention to turn back to Him.

If this seems unloving for a moment, remember, if you are a loving parent you would do the exact same thing to a rebellious kid. If your kid is off at college and you’re sending money every month to help support your kid, and your kid is smoking it away, drinking it away, partying it away, not going to class, abusing your generosity, the first thing you’re going to do as a loving parent is cut off that supply, because until their heart comes back to the right values, you’re not going to continue to supply their party lifestyle. This is what God said.  “I’m not trying to punish you, I’m trying to restore you, because I want your heart. Your heart has turned away from me.”

In part 1, you read the simplicity of God’s message. The people knew they we’re supposed to build the temple, but didn’t know how. So God gave them 3 steps.  Number one, go up to the mountain. Number two, bring down the timber. Number three, build my temple. That’s how you do it.

In part 2, the people start doing those steps, but get discouraged and give up. So God told them to be strong and do the work. Build the dwelling place of God in your life. Successful people do consistently what normal people do occasionally. Just keep putting down another stone.

Now part 3, God has one simple message, above all else, “I want your heart.” More than anything else God wants your heart. He wants you to seek Him with all of your heart.

Here’s what happened. You used to love God, but now you’ve turned away and are distracted following other things. God wants your heart. He wants to be first in everything.

That’s why the church is so important. 

That’s why meeting together each week to worship to sing and serve God is so important. 

That’s why Small Groups matter so much, because the pull of the world is so strong. We gather together with other believers and say, “God we want to do life with you and encourage each other.”

That’s one reason why giving matters so much. Saying, “God, as you bring increase I choose in my heart to give you the first.”

There are times when we focus on the wrong things. When God doesn’t have our hearts.

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“These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.”  Matthew 15:8

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


Here’s the beauty of this story. God got their hearts and because their hearts came back, so did the blessings of God. Not because they obeyed, but because their hearts were right with God.

Even though they hadn’t finished the temple. Even though they didn’t do anything do deserve it, only because their hearts had changed God said,

“I am giving you a promise now.”   Haggai 2:18

Now’s the time to work on God’s dwelling place. Now’s the time to get your hearts right with God. Now is the time to repent of sin that you have rationalized or justified. Now is the time to stop giving God lip service and not give him your heart. Now is the time not to put your house first, but to put His house first. Now is the time.

“I give you this promise now, while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain and your grapevines, your fig trees, your pomegranates and your olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you.”  Haggai 2:18-19

You’ve still got planting to do. It’s not even harvest time. Even though you did not even plant the seed. God promises a harvest of blessing. Not because they built the temple, but because they gave their hearts. Above all else God wants your heart.


Check Back

Review what you talked about last week. Have you identified the causes of your discouragement and the steps to take to move out of it?

This is part 3 of this series, what are some themes you notice playing out in your life?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Read:

  • Haggai 2:12-19
  • 1 Corinthians 15:33

Application

  • Do you know a selective listener? Are you one? Did you even hear this question?
  • Is cleanliness really next to godliness? If so, how close?
  • Read Haggai 2:12-14. What message is God sending through Haggai. How does it apply today?
  • Think about verse 2:14 specifically. How much of what you do is defiled by sin? What does God want instead?
  • When you’re making the right choices, but life just doesn’t go your way, how do you respond? 
  • How current are you in your obedience to God? Is there anything on a waiting list?
  • What is one thing you’re really struggling to trust God with? How could you give that part of your heart to Him?
  • What hard things are happening to you that could be an opportunity to grow closer to God?
  • Verses on Obedience:
    • John 14:15

    • Acts 5:29

    • 2 Corinthians 10:5

    • 2 John 1:6

  • Pray

Father, We want to learn to obey You out of our love for You. Holy Spirit, teach us to trust, show us how to believe, and strengthen us to obey. Jesus, You are the only one who makes dirty things clean. Do Your work in us. Amen.

Tell Someone Else

Who can you share this life-giving message with? Is there anyone in your life who is struggling with obedience to God? How can you encourage them?

What step will you take this week to prioritize in your obedience to God? 

 

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Part 2: Persevering Through Discouragement

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Hate to break it to you… there is no blueprint for a perfect life. All of us have things in our lives that need to be restored. Feel like you’ve hit a wall or hit rock bottom? Don’t be discouraged. Maybe it’s just part of what God wants to help you rebuild.

This weekend, we talked about persevering through discouragement. Let’s first look at the causes of discouragement and then how to move forward when we face discouragement.


Today’s post is for anyone who feels discouraged. Maybe you are discouraged with your job situation, a relationship, your marriage, kids, parents or your faith.

We are back in the book of Haggai today. If you don’t know much about this book, take a look at last week’s post for the backstory.

“Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: ‘I am with you,’ declares the Lord. So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God.”  Haggai 1:13-14 

God stirred the Jewish people up! God stirred up the spirit of the governor, the high priest, and all the people. These people stopped doing what he asked them to do and God says “I am with you.” He took the initiative to get things going again. God cares about what you are doing. He will often stir up your spirit and give you hope to accomplish something that He has put on your mind and heart.

The people started building God an amazing temple. One month goes by, and they quit again. All the people gathered around the temple construction site and were discouraged. 

If we are honest, this happens in our lives too. We start something, and then flame out. What area it is for you? Is it getting out of debt? You start a budget and get a plan and then Christmas happens and you go back into debt. Maybe it’s your health. You go on a diet and then Cinco de Mayo happens and tacos happen so you tell yourself you can go on a diet later. What about the gym? Every January, everyone is there. By February, we’re in line at Krispy Kreme doing glazed donut arm curls!

God told Haggai to ask some questions to get to the root of everyone’s discouragement.

“‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing?’”  Haggai 2:3 

Bible scholars estimate that Haggai was probably around seventy when he wrote this book. That means he would have been a teenager when they were in captivity. He would have been old enough to remember Solomon’s temple. He could see where their discouragement was coming from.


The Causes of Discouragement

  • Comparison

The Jewish people compared their start with Solomon’s finish. We can get incredibly discouraged when we start to compare our current situation with other people’s situation. Maybe you’ve compared your job, car, house or marriage with another person. It can be discouraging to see where someone else is in life and not be there.

You might be a parent and you find yourself comparing your kids accomplishments. If you want to get real discouraged, go look on Instagram and Facebook. When you compare all these different things you suddenly feel discouraged.

  • Lack of progress

The Jewish people are a month into building, and it is not going well. They are trying so hard, but not getting anywhere. We have all been there too. Maybe you have been eating healthy foods and not seeing the proof on the scale. Maybe for you it’s your lack of spiritual progress. You’ve been a Christian for years, but still struggle with a big sin.

It could be any number of things. Everyone lives with discouragement at some point. God gives the discouraged builders very simple instructions. Do you remember in last week’s post when the people said they didn’t know how to build a temple? God’s gave them very simple instructions. He gave them step 1, step 2, step 3. They just had to do what God told them to do, step-by-step.


When You Face Discouragement

God keeps it simple in this part of the story too. He talks first to the governor, then the high priest, and finally to all the people.

“‘But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”  Haggai 2:4 

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Notice he didn’t tell us to sit around and talk about it. He didn’t tell us to compare the results and if it is not good enough stop working. He said to be strong and do the work.

What if it’s not working? Consistently choose the hard right over the easy wrong. Consistently do the work. It’s easy to go home. It’s easy to say it’s hard and quit. It’s easy to say there’s not a lot of progress, but God says do the hard right.

Successful people do consistently what normal people do occasionally.

Be strong and keep praying, even when you don’t see results. Be strong and continue to open up God’s word, seek God daily, continue to do the hard right, even when you’re not getting anywhere. Be strong and continue to show up and exercise, even when the numbers are going the wrong way. Be strong and continue to pay-off your debt, even if it’s only ten dollars a month. Be strong and continue to love when other people are not loving in return. Be strong and show honor, even when the person over you is not acting honorably. Be strong and continue to love your spouse, even when your spouse is being unlovely.

 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9 

Why does God say be strong and do the work? At the end of Haggai 2:4 God says, “For I am with you,” 

Be strong and do the work. God is with you.

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”  Haggai 2:6-9

God said that the glory of the temple they were building will be greater than Solomon’s temple. How can that be? They had no idea that God was actually foreshadowing the New Testament.

In the Old Testament, people had to go to the temple and make a sacrifice in hopes of being right with God. The New Testament, God comes to you, and makes a sacrifice so you can be right with Him. Then the Holy Spirit dwells within you. Jesus being crucified and raising from the dead is the greater glory. The New Testament tells us that those who are followers of Jesus, are actually the temple of the Holy Spirit and your body is the house where God dwells.

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”  1 Corinthians 3:16

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”  Romans 8:11

Now, as a believer in Jesus Christ, you don’t have to be strong, and do the work in your own power. Do it in His power. He’s not only with you, He is in you.

“Greater is He that is in you, than He that is in the world.”  1 John 4:4

Every time you serve someone, He’s being glorified. When you love someone, He’s being glorified. When you forgive someone, lift up His name or share your faith, He’s being glorified. That’s why you never have to be discouraged, you’re not alone. He’s with you. He’s in you.

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6

If you have never placed your faith in Jesus, then you can’t do the work yet. Your first step is to let Jesus do the work. 

“We’re saved by grace through faith and not by works.” Ephesians 2:8

We are not saved by works. If you are trying to get into heaven by works, it will never be good enough to get into heaven. Your smallest sin disqualifies you from heaven, and this is why God’s love is so amazing. He doesn’t make you go to the temple to make a sacrifice. He came to you. He sacrificed his son, Jesus. The Lamb of God, the final sacrifice. The sinless Son of God died in your place, but he didn’t stay dead. He rose from the dead on the third day, so that anyone who calls on Jesus will be saved. All of your sins forgiven.

When you are saved, your body becomes the house for God. A temple for God to dwell. You don’t go to a building to experience God. God comes to you, he lives inside you and you experience Him daily. If you would like to accept this free gift, you can pray this today:

Jesus, I accept the work you did for me. Heavenly Father, forgive all my sins. Make me new. I believe Jesus came for me. He came to seek and save me, to die for me, so I could live strong and do the work you have for me to do. Fill me with Your Spirit so I can know You and serve You forever. My life is not my own. I give it all to You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

If you made this decision, we would love to celebrate this decision with you, pray for you and give you resources about what to do with this new faith. You can email us at church@rockbrook.org.


Check Back

Let’s review the assignments you were given for Part 1: The Hard Right.

  • The way to get started on what God has called you to do, is to quit talking and start doing. 
  • In what area of your life are you making the decision to take a Hard Right?
  • What steps are you taking to lay a foundation for your decision?
  1. Go to the mountain.
  2. Bring down the timber.
  3. Build my house.

To hear the sermon online, go to rockbrook.org/sermons or listen to our podcast on iTunes or Google Play Music.

Hear the Word

Read:

  • Haggai 1:13-14
  • Haggai 2:3-4, 6-9
  • Galatians 6:9
  • Romans 8:11
  • 1 Corinthians 3:16
  • 1 John 4:4

View videos in Rightnow Media or YouVersion App by Tim Makie’s Read Scripture Series, Haggai and Ezra –Nehemiah

The Causes of Discouragement

  1. Comparisons
  2. Lack of progress

Persevere Through It

  1. Be strong
  2. Do the work

Application

  • What part of the message is still moving you?
  • Why do you think God starts by telling His people that He’s with them?
  • Which is more discouraging to you: comparison or lack of progress? How does it play out for you? 
  • What is something you’ve thought about quitting?
  • Are you better at identifying the changes you need to make or actually doing the work to make changes?
  • What do you feel keeps you from being strong and doing the work you need to do to get past discouragement?
  • When you’re feeling fully alive and successful, what’s consistently different about your life? How can you do more of that?
  • What have you started and maybe stopped or paused? How will you press on with God to be strong and do the work?

Tell Someone Else

Who in your life is discouraged? Sharing the work that God is doing in your life is one of the best ways to solidify that work in your own heart.  It is also one of the most effective forms of sharing the Gospel with someone.

 

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Part 1: The Hard Right

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Hate to break it to you… there is no blueprint for a perfect life. All of us have things in our lives that need to be restored. Feel like you’ve hit a wall or hit rock bottom? Don’t be discouraged. Maybe it’s just part of what God wants to help you rebuild.

This weekend, we talked about taking the first steps toward what God is calling you to do.


Have you ever woken up in a certain stage of life and had an unsettling, sinking feeling that by this point in your life, there would be more? That by the time you reached this stage, there would be something different. Something better.

This, was the mood during the time when the book of Haggai was written. The people were saying, I really thought we would be in much different shape than we are now.”

Here’s the backstory before Haggai came into the picture. During the fourth year of King Solomon’s reign, King Solomon started construction on the most magnificent temple for God. People from all over the world traveled just to see this temple and offer their worship to God. But after King Solomon died, the people’s hearts turned away from God. They got distracted, like people often do, and they started worshiping idols. God allowed a series of events to take place in order to pull the people’s hearts back to Himself.

  • In 587 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar and his army crushed the Southern kingdom of Judah destroying the temple.
  • The Jews were taken into captivity for decades.
  • In 538 BC, about 50,000 people were allowed to travel back to Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, to rebuild.

The Jewish people went back and started to rebuild the temple for God. They built the foundation and the built the altar. Then the Samaritans came in and opposed their work and suddenly, the work was too hard and they gave up.

So for 14 years, people didn’t work on the temple. Even though during their captivity, that’s all they thought about. When it got difficult, they put the project on hold and instead of working on God’s house, they started building their own houses and they built very, very nice houses and forgot about God’s house. This is when God raised up the prophet Haggai to call the people back to rebuild the temple for God.

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘These people say, The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’ ”  Haggai 1:2 (NIV)

They thought the time wasn’t now because they received opposition. The Samaritans were opposing them. We done the same thing. Whenever we’ve received opposition, we think it must not be God’s will. It’s too difficult.

The closer we get to doing something that matters to the heart of God, the more likely we are to face opposition.

Receiving opposition isn’t a sign that God is against you. Many times, it’s a sign you’re doing what God wants you to do. Often we’ll say, “It was a God thing,” when it was easy or just fell in our lap and came together. But sometimes it’s a God thing even when there’s blood, sweat, tears and opposition.

The prophet Haggai and the apostle James have a lot in common. They dealt with the nuts and bolts of this life. Action is spiritual. A “do nothing” attitude is wicked. The moment you start to move forward and be obedient to what God called you to do, mark it down. There’s very likely spiritual opposition on the way. When you find yourself being obedient to God and it gets difficult or challenging, and it often does,

CHOOSE THE HARD RIGHT OVER THE EASY WRONG.

Ask God to enable and empower you to choose the hard right over the easy wrong. It would be so easy to quit focusing on God and started focusing on ourselves. It would be so easy, when someone hurts your feelings, to hold a grudge or to be angry at them, but it’s hard and right to forgive others as Christ has forgiven you. It’s easy to continue to spend more than you have and just buy whatever you want and to go into debt. It’s hard and it’s right to begin to climb out of debt, live beneath your means, and live in such a way you can be massively generous with other people. It’s so easy to give up. It’s easy to live without making a difference, but as followers of Jesus, with the help of God, we can choose the hard right over the easy wrong. This is what the prophet helped empower the people to do. He essentially told them The Time Is Now.

Ask yourself this, “Is there some unfinished assignment in my life.” Just think back. It could’ve been yesterday. It could’ve been a month ago. It could’ve been 14 years ago, when God put something on your heart. There’s something that you had a burden for, but you didn’t do it. Think about that for a moment and if God shows you something, read the rest of this post through the lens of what might be that unfinished assignment.

“Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: ‘Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?’ Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways.‘”  Haggai 1:3-5 (NIV)

Give careful thought to your ways. Think about how you’re living. Don’t misunderstand this. God is not upset that they have nice things. But at this point, the people are putting their own comfort ahead of God’s house and God’s priority. 

As you look at your unfinished assignment, are you putting your own comfort ahead of His calling? Are you trying to make a name more than you’re trying to make a difference? Are you putting your household before God’s household? Are you consumed with yourself instead of being consumed with God and showing His love to other people? Give careful thought to your ways. God wants us to choose the hard right over the easy wrong.

Don’t wait to be generous. Don’t wait to serve. Don’t wait to develop this gift inside of you. If there is something in your life you know you’re supposed to do, God’s called you to do it and you’re taking the easy wrong when God wants you to choose the hard right. The time is now.

“You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” Haggai 1:6 (NIV)

Here’s the modern translation of that verse. You’re working your tail off and you still don’t feel like you have anything. You’re pouring your life into some career and it just feels empty and hollow. You have more than you’ve ever had before and you still don’t feel satisfied. You entertain yourself, go to games, you go to movies, you eat out, yet there’s still a longing for something more.

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,’ says the Lord.”  Haggai 1:7-8 (NIV)

God tells them to do 3 things:

  1. Go to the mountain.
  2. Bring down the timber.
  3. Build my house.

Going up a mountain is hard work. Choose the hard right over the easy wrong. Bringing down the timber, that’s another hard task. Choose the hard right over the easy wrong. Come down and build the temple step by step. Our problem is that we say to God,  “What about steps four, five and six? I need more details.” 

Don’t worry about steps four, five and six, just do one, two and three. God’s Word is a lamp unto your feet, a light unto your path. Because he’s a lamp for our feet, not a spotlight for the path, He may show us steps one, two and three and we won’t see four, five and six until we take steps one, two and three first. You have to do what God showed you first before He reveals more to you.

I really want to get in better shape, but I don’t even know where to start.

  1. Start eating healthy.
  2. Start sleeping.
  3. Start exercising.

I want to get out of debt, but I don’t even know where to start.

  1. Get some help from somebody who knows what they’re doing.
  2. Spend less than you earn.
  3. Start paying down your debt.

This is what it means to walk by the Spirit. It’s what we’re commanded to do as followers of Jesus. We want to walk by sight. We want to know the details. We want God to show us everything. God’s not going to show you step four, five, and six until you take steps one, two, and three,

I can’t do the big thing until I do the next thing.

 

THE WAY TO GET STARTED IS TO QUIT TALKING AND START DOING.

Do something today. Do the next thing that God has showed you and do it todayBe faithful to God today. You have no idea what the blessings of God are on the other side of obedience. If you do what God calls you to do, maybe it’s reaching out to someone that hurt you. What if they don’t respond well?

You’re not responsible for the outcome.

You’re just responsible for the obedience.

Maybe you’ve got a sin that has been plaguing you and you’re keeping it a secret. It’s easy to keep it a secret. It’s hard and right to confess and ask for help. Maybe you’re playing fake, happy marriage and you’ve got everybody around you fooled. It’s easy to do that. It’s easy to lie. It’s hard and right to get counseling. Maybe God has prompted you at some point to serve in the church. You know you need Christian community. You need it. You will not do well alone. Maybe you want godly friendships and want to grow closer to God.

  1. Find a small group.
  2. Contact the leader.
  3. Show up.

It’s God leading you to be in Acts 2 kind of fellowship because life is better together. If there is some unfinished assignment, don’t make God raise up a Haggai in your life to call you back. Whenever God gives you an assignment, be obedient. Outcome is God’s responsibility. Obedience is ours.

We’re going to choose the hard right over the easy wrong and maybe God is saying to you today, The Time Is Now!


Check Back

Review what you talked about last week.

Do you have any more questions or conclusions after reflecting on last week’s message on health and healing?

To hear the sermon online, go to rockbrook.org/sermons or listen to our podcast on iTunes or Google Play Music.

Hear the Word

Read Haggai 1:1-8

Who has helped build or rebuild something? What’s the hardest part? What part of this sermon is still moving you?

  • It’s easy to keep a sin secret. It’s hard and right to confess and ask for help.
  • It’s easy to keep buying what you want. It’s hard and right to deny yourself.
  • It’s easy to hold a grudge. It’s hard and right to forgive.
  • It’s easy to follow a crowd. It’s hard and right to not conform.
  • It’s easy to quit. It’s hard and right to press through with His strength.

The way to get started on what God has called you to do, is to quit talking and start doing.

  1. Go to the mountain.
  2. Bring down the timber.
  3. Build my house.

Application

  1. Read Haggai 1:6. What is consistent throughout this verse?
  2. Why do you think the Jews stalled in their progress of rebuilding God’s house?
  3. What’s your greatest barrier to acting on God’s plans?
  4. Has your life ever looked like Haggai 1:6? What have you learned from that period?
  5. Which area of your life do you most need to rebuild your devotion to God?
  6. Describe what your three steps to laying a new foundation—based on Haggai 1:8—might look like.
  7. Have you ever had to lay a new foundation in your life before? What worked? How did it turn out?
  8. Holy Spirit, we’re going to need Your help to see where our lives need remodeling. God, we need Your strength to stay dedicated to the work You’re doing in and through us. Will You come today and refresh our passion to make You known? (1 Corinthians 3:16, James 1:22-25, Ephesians 2:19-22, Ecclesiastes 9:10)

Tell Someone Else

Who can you share this life-giving message with? Is there anyone in your life who is struggling with health and healing? How can you encourage them?

What are some practical ways you’ll make God’s work your priority? Write a list, and put it on your fridge.

Do something for someone else or for the church instead of yourself this week. Then, make it a new habit.

 

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Week 5: What About Health & Healing?

Blog YAFI w5.001On Easter weekend, we did a survey and compiled your most asked questions. Those questions are the roadmap for this series called You Asked For It.

This weekend, we took a look at what the Bible had to say about Health and Healing.


Let’s look at God’s Word and see what it says about people being healed. One of the clearest places it talks about sick people getting well is in the book of James.

“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.”  James 5:13-14 (NIV)

Many of us have gone through or are going through major illness or physical struggle. James says, “Go get some believers, some leaders, have them pray over you and anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord.”

Don’t get focused on the oil. The oil is a symbol. There’s no real power in the oil itself. It’s just like baptism or communion. They are symbols. The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, who is the One who anoints. The Holy Spirit’s role is to point us to Jesus, not to the person praying.

“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  James 5:15-16 (NIV)

There are two extremes in the body of Christ. So from church-to-church, you’ll have these two extremes and anything in between.

One of the extremes is a confessionist approach. This approach believes all you have to do is name-it and claim-it and if you say it you can have it. If you don’t get what you asked for, it’s because there’s something wrong with you and God is rejecting you. There’s a lot of condemnation with that one, and God is not a God of condemnation.

The other extreme is a cessationist approachThis is the belief that miracles happened in the Bible, but they don’t happen today. They believe that once the final apostle died that God closed shop. The purpose of the apostles miracles was to authenticate them and have God testify to it by signs, wonders and miracles. Now that we have the authenticated writings of the apostles in scripture and writings of Jesus as the cornerstone of our faith, miracles are no longer necessary to authenticate the message of Jesus.

God is still in the miracle working business. There’s no healing apart from God. We struggle to believe that, because we’ve all had experiences where God didn’t do the miracle. We’re living with an illness or physical struggle we’ve prayed would go away. We’ve buried people we’ve prayed for. But what’s really happening is that those two extremes are trying to answer this question:

Why doesn’t God heal every time we pray?

  • God still heals people.

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

Are we going to be rescued or go to heaven? Yes. Both of those options are miracles and a work from God. He’ll either heal you and you’ll glorify God or you’ll die and be in glory.

I refuse to let my faith be hindered by my understanding.

That’s why it’s called faith. I’m going to trust God at his word. That he delivers me from every evil attack and takes me safely into his kingdom. That’s why James changes the subject it seems when he says, “If he sins that will be forgiven.” And if you confess your sins and pray for each other, that’s real healing. Deeper than the physical.

  • God is also concerned about my soul.

God created your body. One day every body will rise. But God is also very concerned, with our soul. We get so concerned about the body: we lock our doors, buy insurance, do everything we can to protect the body, take vitamins, work out. All good things we should do, but Jesus says:

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  Matthew 10:28 (NIV)

We’re missing the big point if we think it’s all about just being physically healed and that it’s all about the body. So go to the gym, see a doctor, watch what you eat but also go to a small group, confess your sins and fears and pull things out into the light. We need to be just as concerned about our soul.

  • God wants me to grow in faith.

The key word there is grow. He wants you to grow in your faith. He wants to take you on a faith journey.

We’re concerned about what’s happening to us.

God’s concerned about what’s happening in us.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see… And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  Hebrews 11:1,6 (NIV)

When do you seek God the most? When everything is answered or when you have a lot of need? The answer is obvious. That’s why the very next verse in this James passage, he tells us the story of an Old Testament person named Elijah.


Understanding Faith

“Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”  James 5:17-18 (NIV)

Elijah was a prophet while an evil man, named Ahab, was king. Ahab had an even more wicked wife who controlled many of his decisions. So Ahab & Jezebel turned the hearts of the people away from God to false prophets. God raised up Elijah to be a prophet to proclaim His Word.

Elijah comes and he stands down king Ahab, and says,“It’s not going to rain until I ask God to cause it to rain.” Elijah proclaims the forecast, not like a weatherman, but his words actually turn on and off the water supply. He pronounces this huge drought, and sure enough, it doesn’t rain at all.

Then, God takes Elijah to a ravine where God miraculously provides for him in the middle of this drought while Ahab’s trying to kill him. One day, God dried up the brook that was providing water for Elijah and he went out of the ravine to a place called Zarephath, where he met a widow, who had just a little bit of oil and flour. It wasn’t enough. God miraculously multiplied it so that it was enough.

One day, the widow’s son died and for the first time ever recorded in scripture, Elijah takes this dead boy up into the upper room, prays, and God raises this boy from the dead. After a season of hiding, where there’s been no rain, God calls Elijah back to confront Ahab, and call him out to a showdown. Elijah says, “Get the four hundred and fifty false prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah. Bring them up to Mount Carmel, and we are going to see who the real God is. Is it your gods, or is it my God, Yahweh?” 

Elijah has them build an altar, put a bull on it and ask their god to bring down fire over the altar. All morning the false prophets call out for their god to light the altar. They dance and cut themselves, and nothing happens.

Then Elijah builds his altar, has the false prophets soak it in water in the middle of the drought he calls on God. God sends fire straight down from heaven to consume the altar. Fire engulfs and eliminates the whole thing and licks up all the water in the trench. The false prophets bow in worship to Yahweh and Elijah turns to Ahab and says, “I hear a rainstorm coming.” That’s how the faith journey begins every time. With a word from God.

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It’s a word from God’s Word. There are thousands of promises from God in the Bible. Many people once believed a God promise, but at some point stop. They let their faith grow weary. Elijah’s story begins with a word from God.

“Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.'”  1 Kings 17:1 (NIV)

The promises of God always come to pass. God will work everything together for his glory and good. God says:

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17 (NIV)

Here’s the second part. This is much more complicated and probably where most of us are in our faith journey today: Faith continues regardless of what you see.

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Wherever you are in your faith journey, whatever you’ve been believing God for: healing, relationship restoration, legal situation, getting out of debt… There’s more happening than what you can see. See how this story with Elijah plays out. Elijah prays for it to rain and it doesn’t. The Bible says he puts his head down between his legs and tells his servant, “I’m going to pray, you go look at the sky.”

“’Go and look toward the sea,’ he told his servant. And he went up and looked. ‘There is nothing there,’ he said. Seven times Elijah said, ‘Go back.’ The seventh time the servant reported, ‘A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.’ So Elijah said, ‘Go and tell Ahab, Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”  1 Kings 18:43-44 (NIV)

He kept on. He didn’t give up. He was persistent in his faith. Someone reading this needs to hear, “Go back. Pray some more. Seek God again. Do it some more.”

Wherever you are in your situation. Hold on. Don’t give up. Put your face to the ground, believe God, and if you don’t see anything out there over the sea, go back and do it again. Why? Because…

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”  2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV)

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“Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. The power of the LORD came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.”  1 Kings 18:45-46 (NIV)

“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”  2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NLT)

We’re so focused on healing, the destination. It’s important. But it’s not the most important thing. God is focused on the journey. The process is the point.

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Let God work in you. He still heals, He still does miracles. 

Maybe that thorn is there to drive you to the throne and push you deeper into a process that will reveal God’s power and grace like never before.


 

Check Back

Review what you talked about last week.

Do you have any more questions or conclusions after reflecting on last week’s message on how the world ends?

Are you living in light of eternity?

To hear the sermon online, go to rockbrook.org/sermons or listen to our podcast on iTunes or Google Play Music.

Hear the Word

Read James 5:13-20 & 1 Kings 17 & 18

Application

Have you ever prayed for healing for you or for someone else? What happened when you prayed?

What words describe Elijah’s faith? Describe ways we can apply the lesson of Elijah to our faith. 

Read Hebrews 11:39-40 and Isaiah 57:1

Discuss with the group what these verses mean. How can these words from God help us when God does not answer our prayers as we planned?

At Rock Brook, we offer a process of next steps to help us in our faith journey. It’s called Growth Track. Where are you in the Growth Track journey?

For more information, visit http://rockbrook.org/connect/growth-track

Tell Someone Else

Who do you need to share this message with this week?

Is there anyone in your life who is struggling with health and healing? How can you encourage them?

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