CHOOSE FAITH Week 6 “Making A Great Reception” Part 2 Believers Statesboro 10.15.17

Last week we learned that like football receivers, we need to learn to run the proper pattern to get ourselves in a position to receive all that God has for us, those great and precious promises that accompany our salvation!  Believe and Receive! There is an art to receiving! Last week we learned the first few steps of a proper pattern to be in a position to receive all that God has in store for us!

1.    It’s through faith and patience that we catch the ball.

2.    Keep calling the plays.

3.    Keep your game free of distractions.

4.    Always give your best.

5.    Be faithful to the team.

Join us Sunday, at 9 or 11 a.m. for part 2 of “Making A Great Reception”!

CHOOSE FAITH Week 5 “How To Make a Great Reception”  Believers Statesboro 10-8-17

James 2:5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?

God has chosen us all to be RICH IN FAITH!  Since God chose it, we choose it too.  We CHOOSE FAITH!

We choose to walk by faith, and we choose to live by faith.

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we live by faith, not by sight. (NIV)

Living by faith is the best way to experience the abundant life that Jesus has for us.

So far, we’ve discovered what faith is, and we’ve looked at the nuts and bolts of how faith works, and how to speak faith!

Now, we need to make sure that we know how to Receive all that God has prepared for us.

How many of you love to see a great reception!  Maybe a long pass or last minute hail Mary.

Are you a good receiver?  Do you know how to receive from God?

We, like football receivers, need to learn to run the proper pattern to get ourselves in a position to receive all that God has for us.

How to Make a Great Reception

1.         It’s through faith and patience that we catch the ball.

For a wide receiver to make a great catch, he not only has to have faith in his quarterback and faith in his abilities to throw the ball, but he must also have patience.

  • He has to wait his turn to make a play.
  • He has to run the pattern and wait for the ball to come.
  • A good team tries to limit the receiver’s waiting time, but he still has to wait and be patient.

I know that you cringe at the sound of that word, we are not people who are known for great patience. 

Faith and Patience has been referred to as the power twins of faith!

Hebrews 6:11-12 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Who are we to imitate?  Other good receivers.

We imitate those who have inherited the promises of God, those who inherited the promises of God through faith and patience. (Hebrew 11 has many examples.)

  • When faith gets weary, patience comes along and encourages faith on.
  • Patience is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23).  So, it should be a by-product of walking in the Spirit.
  • We receive from God through faith.  Everything is by faith and that pleases God. 

Romans 4:13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.

Abraham’s promise took 25 years to come about.

Genesis 21:2-5 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3    Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

With very little hope, he believed God.  In the natural, he and his wife, Sarah, were well beyond the age to conceive a child.

Romans 4:18-19 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.

I wonder how many balls have been dropped due to lack of patience.

Don’t give up!  Be patient!

Hebrews 10:35-39 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”  39  But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

The Waiting Phase

Sometimes, we receive from the Lord instantly, other times we have to wait for the answer to come—the

“waiting phase”.

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess (our confession, “Faith Talk”), for he who promised is faithful.

 

God’s timing is always perfect!  (Speaking of Christ dying for us, Romans 5:6, says he died for us in God’s perfect timing).

  • Romans 5:6 “… at just the right time.” (NIV)
  • Romans 5:6 “… in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (NKJ)

Delays may be due to:

  • God working on our character
  • We may lack maturity and need to grow up some.
  • Sin could be hindering the promise.
  • God may be in the process of lining things up.

No matter what the reason for the delays, after believing and speaking, we need to make sure that we are prepared to patiently wait to receive from God.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

During the waiting phase, it is a good time to pray “THANK YOU, JESUS PRAYERS”

2.      Keep calling the plays.

Continue to speak faith and call those things which are not as though they are.

God “called things” not as though they were (Romans 4:17).

Start calling out the promises of God.  Be persistent!

Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.  By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

He never gave up!

NEXT LIFE STEP:  This week I will look at my “Needs” / “Promises” list and continue to speak the promises of God.

3.         Keep your game free of distractions.  Confession is essential!

It doesn’t take much of a distraction to make a receiver drop the ball.

Sin is a distracter and has kept many people from receiving all that God has for them.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

NEXT LIFE STEP:  This week I will memorize 1 John 1:9.

If you commit a transgression, don’t mope around in guilt for days.

  • Confess, be forgiven, and stay clean before the Lord.
  • Sin in your life can hinder the good that God is trying to do for you!

A good receiver must let past mistakes go, and run to catch again.

4.       Always give your best.

Don’t stop giving of your time, energy, and resources.  You will reap what you sow.

Week after week, the receiver goes out on the field and gives his very best.

Sometimes, it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t, but he just keeps doing his best.

Galatians 6:7-9 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows. 8  Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

It’s an “if” verse, the reward is conditional to us not giving up!

5.     Be faithful to the team.

Continue to be faithful.  God honors faithfulness.

The football receiver faithfully runs his routes.

  • He doesn’t do everyone else’s job; he only does his and does it faithfully.
  • If he were to go and try to coach, cheer, or be equipment manager when the ball was thrown to him, he wouldn’t be there. He wouldn’t be found faithful.

 

He is steady.  He faithfully executes his route so that he will be in a position to receive the ball.

Read the Parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25:14-29.  Make notes concerning faithfulness.

Matthew 25:15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 

Matthew 25:23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Advance with what’s in your hand.  Be a team player.

I see a world of difference between people who are faithful to the team and people who are not.

People who recognize their place and faithfully serve for the good of others.

1 Corinthians 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (for the profit of all: NKJ)

NEXT LIFE STEP:  This week I will give my best and continue to be faithful, to my team, church and family.

1.     It’s through faith and patience that we catch the ball.

2.     Keep calling the plays.

3.     Keep your game free of distractions.

4.     Always give your best.

5.     Be faithful to the team.

Life App Group and Family Devotional Application

  1. What are you patiently waiting to receive from God?
  2. How is your faith for this, and how is your patience?
  3. What promises, concerning your need, are you standing in faith on and speaking over your need?
  4. What distractions can you identify in your life that may be distracting you from your promise being fulfilled?
  5. As you wait on the Lord, are you giving God your best and being faithful to the team?
  6. Of the five receiving suggestions given, which are you strongest on and which are your weakest?

 

CHOOSE FAITH Week 4 “Faith Talk” Believers Statesboro 10-1-17

In accordance with John 10:10, we CHOOSE LIFE.  One of the best ways to choose life is to CHOOSE FAITH.  We choose to walk by faith, and we choose to live by faith.

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we live by faith, not by sight. (NIV)

Living by faith is the best way to experience the abundant life that Jesus has for us.

So far, we’ve discovered what faith is, and we’ve looked at the nuts and bolts of how faith works.

Now, we need to talk about our speech!  Faith is not only a belief in the heart, but our faith is expressed through our words.

Our Faith Is Released Through the Words of Our Mouth

Every person’s speech reflects their faith, no matter what their faith is based on, good or bad.  What is in a person’s heart will always come out of their mouth.

In Matthew 12, Jesus explains why blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an unforgivable sin.

He makes the statement that a tree would be known by its fruit and teaches that our spoken words are the product of the fruit of our hearts.

Matt 12:34-37 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good?  For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35  A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.

You may try to hide the content of your heart but eventually your words will give it away.

36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have

spoken.

There will be an account given for the words spoken by your mouth.  If your words are not according to the truth of God’s Word, they will be idle, meaningless, and oftentimes destructive.

 

37        For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Jesus considers the words we speak very important!

  • Your words will either justify or condemn you.
  • Your words will reveal what is in your heart and the choices that you are making.
    • Your words are inseparable from what you believe in your heart.  What you say is your faith speaking!

Next Life Step:  This week I will be conscious of what I say and determine if the words I’m speaking reflect the faith in my heart or the lack there of.

Are Spoken Words Really That Important?

Proverbs 4:24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you. (NKJ) 

Proverbs 6:2 have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth.

Proverbs 12:6 The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them. 

Proverbs 12:14  A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth,  (NKJ) 

Proverbs 12:18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Can our words really be that powerful that they can affect us and those around us with results that can be eternal?

Proverbs 18:20-21 From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. 21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

This is the power of the spoken word!

God as Our Example

Isaiah 55:10-11 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11  so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty (void), but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

  • If you have a guarantee that God’s Word will go forth, prosper, and accomplish His will, doesn’t it make sense to line your words up with God’s Words?            Speak the Word of God!

God Spoke the Worlds into existence.

Genesis 1: 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Gn.1:3,6,9,11,20,24,26,29).

Believing and Speaking

Our words are very important.  Therefore, our faith, when really believed in our hearts, will be released through our spoken words.

2 Corinthians 4:13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”  Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak,

I believed and therefore I spoke!  Speak what you believe!

The Perfect Example

Romans 10:8-10 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Salvation is an act of faith, and you are saved by believing and confessing.

What if you need healing? – Believe and Confess.  Deliverance? – Believe and Confess.

Provision? – Believe and Confess.  When you Choose Faith – Believe and Confess!

Jesus Teaching Faith

Mark 11:12-14 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14  Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

Mark 11:19-24 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city. 20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.  21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look!  The fig tree you cursed has withered!” 22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23  “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24        Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

  • Put your faith in God.
  • Speak to the mountain in your life.
  • Then believe, without doubt in your heart, that it will come to pass.
  • The manifestation of seeing the results may come later, but when Jesus cursed the fig tree it died at its roots.

Don’t miss the believing and speaking in this story!

Mark 11:23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.

Not thinks, hopes, or wishes; but what he says!

Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Believe and say!  Ask verbally and believe.

Remember, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

  • Out of the abundance of a heart of doubt, the mouth will speak!
  • Out of the abundance of a faith-filled heart, the mouth will speak!

Whoa, Scott!  Can’t this get us into trouble?  What if we pray the wrong thing?

Does this mean that we can get anything we want just by using positive thinking and believing that we receive it?  Where is the balance?

The Balance is Remaining in Christ

John 15:7  If you remain in me (abide in me) and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

The key is remaining or abiding in Christ Jesus.

  • If you are remaining in Jesus and His words are remaining in you, do you think that your desires will be evil?
  • The more you remain in Christ, the more His desires become your desires.  Then, the things you ask for will be Godly.
  • Knowing that your desires are God’s desires, increases your faith.  You can ask with confidence, not doubting!

“Understanding the practical purpose of our faith life is to bring us where God wants us to go.  It is not a tool for self-accomplishment, but for God’s accomplishing His purpose in us as we actively, aggressively open up to His Word, will, promise, and power.”[1]  Roy Hicks

It Is Written

In the temptation of Christ recorded in Luke 4: 1-13, Jesus gives us a great example of not only having faith in God, but also speaking God’s Word.

Luke 4:3-4 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” 

The devil promised Jesus authority and splendor if Jesus would worship him.

Luke 4:8-9 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” 9  The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here.

Now look, the devil is quoting Scripture.

Luke 4:10-11 For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11  they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

But because Jesus was abiding in God, remaining in God, He knew that this was not what the Father wanted Him to do.

Luke 4:12-13 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”  13  When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. 

How did Jesus do spiritual battle with Satan?

He didn’t just know the Word of God in His heart, He spoke it out verbally?

Speak God’s Word Over Your Needs

In Choose Faith Week Three, you made a needs list.  Then you searched the Scriptures and found a promise for each of those needs.  Now, for the next step.

  • Begin to speak “verbally out loud” those promises over each of your needs.
  • Make this a daily practice as you see those needs met!
  • Remember, God’s Word doesn’t come back void but accomplishes all that it is sent out to do.

(Note: If you have not made a needs list and started standing on the Word of God concerning those needs, you are missing a tremendous blessing!  Don’t delay, do so now.)

“The Word of God will always tell you what’s going on in God’s heart.  Unfortunately, your words will always tell you what’s going on in your heart”.  The question is: What is the condition of your heart towards the promises of God as indicated by your confession?” Roy Hicks

Remember, Romans 10:17 Faith comes by hearing and hearing and hearing the Word of God.

Can you hear the Word if it’s not spoken?

Abraham Chose Faith

Romans 4:17-21 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”  He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. 18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21  being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Verse 17 says that God gives life to the dead and CALLS into being things that were not.

How do you call something?  When you call, do you expect an answer or do you expect it to come?

Genesis 17 records God’s promise of a son given to Abram.  In verse 1-6, God changes Abram’s name to Abraham.  Every time his name was spoken, people were “Faith Talking”.

Gen 17:5  No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. Abram (exalted father)–Abraham (father of a multitude)

Every time Abraham’s name was spoken by himself or someone else, it was a verbal confession of faith.

The Unruly Tongue

James 1:26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 

James 3:8  but no human being can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison

  • Train the unruly member for your good!  Ask the Lord Jesus to help you in this area today!

Next Life Step:  This week I will ask the Lord to help me train my tongue to only speak God’s truths found in His Word.

“May the Word of Faith ever be upon your lips!” 

Life App Group and Family Devotional Application

  1. Do you find it true that most people talk about what’s in their heart?
  2. Explain what the Bible means when it says “Life and Death are in the power of the tongue”. (Prov. 18:21)
  3. What are some of the promises of God that you are standing on? Do you speak those promises?
  4. Explain why remaining in Christ (John 15) brings a balance when you believe and confess.
  5. How will speaking God’s promises help you train your tongue?

 

[1] Power Faith, Roy Hicks Jr., Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville 1994

 

Every person’s speech reflectes their faith, no matter what their faith is based on, good or bad.  What is in a person’s heart will always come out of their mouth.

Faith is not only a belief in the heart, but our faith is expressed through our words.

2 Corinthians 4:13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”

Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak,

 

CHOOSE FAITH Week 3 “Nuts and Bolts”   Believers Statesboro 9-24-17

Last week, we decided that we were going to CHOOSE LIFE, as we CHOOSE FAITH.

We defined faith and saw that the word of God said that we are to walk by faith and live by faith.

I don’t want to tell you to live by faith, but never tell you how faith works, so today let’s look at the “Nuts and Bolts” of faith.

The Nuts and Bolts of Faith

1.     Faith is given by God.

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  (a measure of faith NKJ)

Every believer is given a measure of faith when he is born again.  It is up to us as individual believers to develop the measure of faith that we have.  You may have strong faith or there may be times when your faith is weak.

There are other times when you may need to ask Jesus to help you with your faith, like the Father who brought his demon processed son to Jesus did.

Mark 9:23-24 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” 24   Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

The Gift of Faith  Faith is also one of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:7-11).

This is more than human faith, saving faith (Eph.2:8-9), or general faith (Rom. 12:3).

This is a supernatural manifestation of faith.  That is unlimited faith, for specific situations, that produces supernatural results.   You can ask God for this gift.

 

The Three Pillars That Our Faith Is Built Upon: (All three work in harmony)

  1. The Purchased Redemption of Jesus Christ
  2. The Integrity of God’s Word
  3. The voice and witness of the Holy Spirit (Hearing the voice of God)

2.     Faith sees the unseen.

2 Corinthians 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Faith looks to God’s Word and believes God’s Word rather than the natural circumstances.

Romans 4:17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed– God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; (NKJ) (…calls into being things that were not. NIV)

Remember, Abraham had no children and God said, “I have made you a father of many nations.” 

3.     Our Faith is based on the Word of God and the promises God has made.

2 Peter 1:3-4 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Has God made any promises in His Word that pertain to your needs?

NEXT LIFE STEP:  Today I will make a list of needs and things that I am believing God for in my life, my family, work, and church, etc.  I will search God’s Word and find a promise for each need.

 

Examples:

Strength

Zechariah 4:6 … ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. (NIV) 

Acts 1:8  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; …. (NIV) 

2 Corinthians 12:9  And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (NKJ)

Freedom

John 8:36  If the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free. (LB) 

2 Corinthians 3:17  Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  (NKJ) 

Romans 8:2  For the power of the life-giving Spirit- and this power is mine through Jesus Christ- has freed me from the vicious circle of sin and death. (LB)

Healing

Psalm 41:3  The LORD will sustain him upon his sickbed; in his illness, Thou dost restore him to health. (NAS) 

Psalm 103:2-3  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; (KJV) 

1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness– by whose stripes you were healed. (NKJ)

Guilt

I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NKJ) 

Romans 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (NAS) 

Hebrews 10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (KJV)

Family

Jeremiah 32:39 And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: (KJV) 

Psalms 115:14 May the LORD make you increase, both you and your children. (NIV) 

Proverbs 14:26 In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and his children will have refuge. (NAS) 

From The Case For Christ Movie Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

 

“Partakers of the Divine Nature.”

2 Peter 1:4 goes on to tell us that through these promises we will be partakers of the divine nature.

God’s Divine look is revealed in His Hebrew Names.

\

Jehovah-Jireh:               Gensis. 22:13,14           Our Provider

Jehovah-Rapha:            Exodus 15:26                Our Healer

Jehovah-Nissi:               Exodus 17:8-15             Our Banner

Jehovah-Shalom:          Judges 6:24                   Our Peace

Jehovah-Ra-ah:             Psalm 23:1                     Our Shepard

Jehovah-Tsidkenu:       Jeremiah 23:6               Our Righteous

Jehovah-M’Kaddesh      Exodus 31:13                Our Sanctifier

“Things that accompany salvation.”

Hebrews 6:9 “But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner” (NKJ)

What types of things accompany our salvation?  What Five Things did Jesus provide for us in His death?

Isaiah 53:4-6 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (NKJ)

Jesus is all inclusive.  He is all encompassing!

It’s sad to think that many Christians may never realize and embrace all that our salvation entails and enjoy the great and precious promises of God.

As a Child of a loving God are you just eating cheese or are you living by faith and receiving all that Jesus paid for you to have?  I would suggest that you look in the Word of God and discover just what promises are available for you!

Abraham was convinced that God would do what He said He would do.

This belief in God’s promises allowed Abraham to have faith beyond all hope!

Romans 4:18-22 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave  glory to God,21   being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” Get in agreement with God’s Word!  Be fully persuaded that God has the power to do what he promises!

4.     You can build up and increase your faith.

Romans 4:20 Yet he (Abraham) did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,

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

That’s how you got saved in the first place, but hearing the truth in the Word of God.

The Word of God will continue to increase your faith.  Began to read it, speak it, and hear it!Jude 1:20 “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,”  Praying in the Holy Spirit creates an atmosphere that is conducive to hearing from God.

As you hear God speaking to you, you obey God, your faith will be increased.

5.     Faith is a way of life.

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

Romans 1:17  For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last (from faith to faith NKJ, One Faith Choice after another.), just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4).

Faith is a way if life.  It is practical and works in every area of our life, therefore we CHOOSE FAITH!

Hebrews 11:6  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

6.         Faith is worth fighting for.

1 Timothy 6:12  Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 

Choosing Life is choosing to salvation found only in Christ Jesus.  Now we continue to CHOOSE FAITH and fight for the promises of God in Christ Jesus.

But I would fight for faith than switch to any other way of living!

In his book “Power Faith” Roy Hicks states that it is a fight that’s well worth fighting for because:

  • Anything done without faith cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6).
  • Grace can be accessed only by faith (Ephesians 2:8).
  • Every person has the capacity for faith (Romans 12:3).
  • Faith is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).
  • Nothing is impossible when you have faith, even though it may be as small as a mustard seed.      (Matthew 17:14-21).

In conclusion we are all called to be Faith People!  We are to live by faith everyday.

Not getting weary but fighting the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12)

Next Life Step:  This week I will memorize 1 John 5:4 “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 

Life App Group and Family Devotional Application

  1. What are The Three Pillars that our faith is built upon?
  1. How do we see the unseen?
  1. Share one of your needs that you are praying about and the accompanying promise you have found.
  1. What are some of the things that accompany our salvation?
  1. What do you think 1 Timothy 6:12 means by “fight the good fight of faith”?

September 1st, 2017

This year our 2017 Theme for Believers Church has been “CHOOSE LIFE”.
One of the Life Choices that we are going to make is that we are going to CHOOSE LIFE GROUPS.
Life Groups are based on common interest and felt needs, here at Believers, and they allow us to do life with other believers and experience more of the abundant life that Jesus wants to us to have!
These Life Groups help you grow, learn, mature, thrive, and provide for you the CARE that you need.
If you choose not to be in a Life Group, you are cutting yourself off from a large amount of personal attention, love, and care.
If you CHOOSE LIFE GROUPS, you will be CHOOSING LIFE!

See you this Sunday at 9 or 11 a.m. and CHOOSE LIFE GROUPS!

Welcome to this, the final week, of our series on The Case for Christ.  This has been a great series which has generated a lot of discussion and life change. Many of you have received Jesus as your savior.

I would encourage you to take your next step and be water baptized on 9-24-17.  Tonight, we are ending this series on a high note, showing the entire movie at 6:00 p.m., invite a friend!

Jesus came according to God’s will, purpose, and plan.  As we saw in week two He was Alive, on this earth at Point A, He Died for our sins at Point B, and He was Alive Again at Point C, rising from the dead to give us eternal life when we place our faith in Him.  Not only did Jesus save us from our sins, but He has a purpose and plan for us now.

Matthew 5:13-16 “You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 “You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15           Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

I think Jesus is telling us, “If you’re a follower of mine, I want you to live lives that are salty.

Lives that make people thirst for God.  I want you to live lives that shine my light and grace and love and hope and compassion into dark places.”

 

DIVINE APPOINTMENT DAYS

Living this way, being salt and light will lead to some unexpected and exciting adventures, because when we are motivated to engage with people about Jesus, when we prayerfully open ourselves up to be used by God, life gets exciting!

Your day might start out average and routine, but you just don’t know how God might ambush you with an opportunity to be salt and light and use you to have a conversation that could change someone’s eternal destination.  You get to have what I like to call Divine Appointment Days.

In The Case for Christ, we see that their whole spiritual journey began with a Divine Appointment with a lady named Alfie.  She followed a simple nudge and leading of the Holy Spirit to eat in a different restaurant than they intended to go.  That doesn’t sound very profound and spiritual, does it?

Well look what happened.

God took Alfie’s availability and used her to impact the lives of others.  Later, Alfie will be the one to share the Good News with Leslie.  They had many conversations, and they went to church together.  God used an ordinary Christian like Alfie to impact the life of her new friend, Leslie.

And then He used a baby Christian like Leslie to impact the life of someone as resistant to the truth as her husband, Lee.  Today He uses someone like Lee to impact countless others through his preaching, his books, and now this movie.

Leslie shared with Lee a simple idea—what we’ve been calling the faith formula—drawn from John 1:12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

Believe. Believe God loves us so much that “He Gave His Only Son” for us.  Believe that Jesus came to earth and died on the cross for the express purpose of giving “his life as a ransom” (Mark 10:45).

Believe + Receive It’s not enough for our friends and family to just passively nod their heads and say they agree with the information we’ve shared about Jesus.  They need to receive Him as their own forgiver and leader; they need to receive the free grace gift of righteousness.

Believe + Receive = Become—this is a simple but biblical way that all of us can explain the Good News of Christ. When we share that message, and when we see our own family members and friends taking positive steps toward becoming followers of Jesus, then we’ll realize that we, too, are experiencing more and more unexpected adventures in our own lives.

  • This is where the excitement happens in the Christian life. Our prayer life takes on a whole new dimension because we are praying to God for help and listening for His direction.
  • It’s when our Bible study takes on new relevance because we aren’t just looking for abstract ideas; we’re looking for ways to help our friends know Christ.
  • It’s when our worship becomes more heartfelt because we are worshiping the God of the second chance, who loves our friends even more than we do.
  • This is when our dependence on God is greatest because we know that, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, there is nothing we can do by ourselves to bring anybody to Jesus

How Jesus Would Be Salt and Light

Today we are going to look at three lessons we can learn by asking, “What if Jesus lived in my house?  What would He do?  How would He interact with the neighbors?”

  1. If Jesus lived in my house, before Jesus would talk to His neighbors about the Heavenly Father, He would talk to his Heavenly Father about His neighbors.

Jesus would pray.  Before Jesus embarked on anything important, He brought it to the Father in prayer. In fact, Jesus’ prayers for spiritually lost people continued up to His last breath on the cross.

As British pastor John Stott pointed out,

Jesus seems to have prayed for His tormentors actually while the iron spikes were being driven through His hands and feet; indeed, the imperfect tense [of the biblical account in Greek] suggests that he kept praying, kept repeating his entreaty, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

If Jesus prayed for His enemies all the way through the torture of the crucifixion, then how can we justify our failure to pray for the people we love and care about but who are living in quiet rebellion against God?

If Jesus lived in my house, He would pray specifically, consistently, and fervently for His neighbors.

Are we doing that?  James 5:16b The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

“When I pray, coincidences happen.  When I stop, they don’t.”  Mother Teresa

I love to hear the testimonies of people in our church that say, “My dad accepted Jesus last week and I’ve been praying for him for years.”  Or “For the last four years I’ve put my sister’s name on the prayer cards we exchange at the first of the month, and today she received Jesus as her savior.  Prayer works!

Some of you are still waiting for the answer, I know, but don’t stop praying!

Who have you stopped praying for?

Next Life Step:  Who do I love, but I’ve stopped praying for?  Today I commit to keep praying for them and expect them to have a divine encounter with God.

Here’s a convicting question:  If God were to answer every prayer you prayed last week, would there be anybody new in His kingdom?

Don’t forget that the Altar team is here to pray and agree with you every Sunday.  Put the names of your lost loved ones and friends on the back of your Communication Cards, and Monthly Prayer Cards.

  1. If Jesus lived in my house, He would let the neighbors know the door is always open for questions.

I think Jesus would say, “Do you have a doubt, objection, obstacle?  Come on in.  We’ll talk about it.”

I can’t think of an incident anywhere in the New Testament where Jesus shunned anyone with a sincere question.

40-50% of kids who are active in a Youth Group in their final year of High School will walk away from the church as a young adult.  One of the reasons is they never felt like they had a safe place to express and work through their doubts.

Dr. Gary Habermas, who was portrayed in The Case for Christ movie, is an expert on the resurrection of Jesus, but he has also written a lot on the topic of doubt.  He has pointed out that one of the best examples of Jesus welcoming questions comes from the story of John the Baptist.

  • John declared: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
  • John baptized Jesus and saw the heavens open and heard the voice of the Father say, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
  • John said of Jesus, “I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34, NKJV).

But then John got arrested and thrown into prison.  What happens to us when tough times come?  Doubt begins to creep in, right?  So, he asked a couple of his followers to go to Jesus and ask him directly,

“Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3).

How did Jesus react to this?  Did He get angry?  Did He reprimand John for his question?  No!

Luke 7:22 “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” In other words, “Go back and tell John about the evidence you see with your own eyes that convinces you I am who I claim to be.”

Did this incident poison how Jesus looked at John?  Did it disqualify John from a role in the kingdom because he dared to ask a question? On the contrary, after this incident Jesus said,

“I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John” (Luke 7:28).

It’s okay for us to have questions and even doubts; as long as we do what John the Baptist did and seek answers.

That’s why we’ve worked so hard to create safe places here at Believers Church where believers and spiritual seekers alike feel free to be honest about doubts they have.  We will talk about Life Groups next Sunday and this is a great place to talk through these types of questions and doubts.

It’s also the reason we’ve done this series on The Case for Christ, and are showing the movie tonight.

We wanted to be ready to engage questions and doubts your friends and loved ones have.

1 Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

To be salt and light means helping our friends find answers to their questions.  Helping them work through the Sticking Points that we talked about in week one.

Next Life Step:  This week I will pray that God will help me be receptive of those that doubt and help me help them get past the sticking points on their spiritual journey.

This is all part of our practice here at Believers Church called Relational Evangelism.

Instead of a form of apologetics where Christians blast opponents with a barrage of facts, we can engage in a new approach of relational apologetics.

This is where we invite spiritually curious friends and neighbors into a safe environment where we can engage with them, listen, empathize, validate them as people, respect them, be authentic, and accompany them on their journey toward Jesus.

  1. If Jesus lived in my house, He would live out an authentic faith.

Our Mission is to Teach, Encourage and Inspire Authentic Christianity,to the people of Statesboro, Bulloch County, and surrounding areas.

Talk is cheap, and living out an authentic faith takes more than just words.  Jesus didn’t just say He loved the world; He showed it by being a servant.  That’s why we, here at Believers Church, are so big on Servant Evangelism.  When we sacrificially serve others as Jesus did, it opens up hearts otherwise closed to the gospel.  Remember Matthew 5:16: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

In this verse, the Greek word for good doesn’t just refer to good as opposed to bad; it means winsome and attractive.  Our authentic acts of service are attractive and can draw others toward Christ.

If Jesus lived in my house, His authentic living would include a compassion radar.

What do your neighbors need?  Maybe an elderly neighbor would be grateful if you ran errands.  Perhaps a single mom needs babysitting, or maybe a lonely kid needs to shoot baskets.

Serving those around us is one aspect of living authentic faith.  Another is simply living in a way in which what you see is what you get.  We inspire authentic Christianity, by being authentic ourselves.

No false piety, a holier-than-thou attitude, a phony smiley face that pretends everything is great when it’s not.  People are looking to see if your life authentically matches your faith.  What do they see?

So many people are confused by what they see people doing at church compared to the things they do and the way they act at work, at home or in private.

One year we had a Family VBS theme that spoke volumes… “Take It In and Live It Out”.  Believe + Receive and now there should be a noticeable difference to others about what you have Become.

Jesus said… “You are the salt of the earth.”  You are!  You have no choice when you Become a follower of Christ.

The question is, what kind of salt are you going to be?  Good salt; tasty salt, or flavorless salt; contaminated bad salt.

“You are the light of the world.  You Are!  When you are filled with the light of Jesus, you are a light as well.

The question is, are you going to be a dim light or a bright light?  Are you going to hide your light under a basket or let your light shine?

For the glory of God, today let’s commit to the exhortation of Jesus and “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Simply put, our role is this: to be ready and willing—because God is always able.  After all, He is the great evangelist; we’re merely the tools He uses to fulfill His mission of redeeming the world, one person at a time.

Next Life Step:  Today I resolve to live out an Authentic Christian life for all to see and by the power of the Holy Spirit; I will be salt and light to those around me. 

Life App Group and Family Devotional Application

  1. Share some Divine Appointments where God used you to minister to someone in need.
  1. If God were to answer every prayer you prayed last week, would there be anybody new in His kingdom?
  1. Why do we sometimes stop praying for the salvation of our loved ones and friends?
  1. Why do you think Christians are hesitant to let others express their doubts and questions?
  1. How does our salt get contaminated or our light get dim? What can we do to change it? 

   

Welcome to week three of our series based on The Case for Christ movie which shows the spiritual journey of a young atheist and investigative reporter, Lee Strobel, who sets out to disprove Christianity and, in his way of thinking at the time, to rescue his wife, Leslie, from her newfound faith in Christ.

As I mentioned before today Lee Strobel is a pastor and best-selling author.  The evidence he found led him to a life-changing encounter with Jesus.

Strobel’s experiences opened doors for him to talk with all kinds of interesting people—scholars, authors, politicians, celebrities, the president, even the first man on the moon.  But Strobel has said that, by far, the most fascinating interview he ever conducted was with a man named Charles Templeton, the most famous spiritual skeptic in Canada.

He and Graham were the best of friends in the 1940s and 1950s.  Many people thought it was Templeton who would emerge as his generation’s biggest evangelist, because he was viewed by some as being more eloquent than Graham.  He proclaimed Christ nightly to stadium crowds of up to 30,000 people.

But then Templeton went to a liberal seminary and lost his faith.  He even tried to talk Graham out of trusting in the Bible, but Graham stood fast and ended up becoming one of history’s greatest evangelists.  Templeton, the agnostic, went on to become Canada’s most notorious critic of Christianity.

Strobel was able to get an interview with the then eighty-three-year-old Templeton and Strobel asked him why he no longer believed in God.

  • Templeton raised questions that bother many people: Why would a loving God allow pain and suffering? How could God send people to hell?  How can Jesus be the only way to God?

But then, a couple of hours into the interview, there came a dramatic turn.  Strobel asked Templeton what he thought of Jesus, and his tone changed 180 degrees, from critical and biting to thoughtful and reflective.

  • Templeton began to extol Jesus. He said, “He was the greatest human being who has ever lived.  He was a moral genius.  He was intrinsically the wisest person I’ve ever encountered in my readings.”

Strobel was taken aback.  He said, “It sounds like you really care about him.”

  • Templeton replied, “Well, yes, he was the most important thing in my life. I know it may sound strange, but I have to say . . . I adore him!  Everything good I know, everything decent I know, everything pure I know, I learned from Jesus.  In my view, he is the most important human being who has ever existed.”
  • And that’s when Templeton uttered the words Strobel never expected to hear from him. As tears flooded Templeton’s eyes, he said, “And if I may put it this way—I . . .  miss . . . him!”  And he broke down weeping.

Here was a hardened agnostic, the author of a book called Farewell to God, and he was crying over missing Jesus!  Strobel tried to get him to elaborate, but he seemed embarrassed.  Finally, with a wave of his hand, he said, “Enough of that.”  And he changed the subject.

Charles Templeton had walked away from his faith, but like the Prodigal Son, something was beckoning him to return Home.  Even though Templeton tried to shake off God, Jesus continued to shake up his soul.  Strobel said it was the most haunting moment of any interview he’d ever conducted.

The Way Home

Have you ever walked away from God?

  • Maybe you’re here because a friend invited you today—and we’re so glad you came—but you’re thinking about your own spiritual life, and you’re realizing that you’ve wandered far from home.
  • Or maybe you’ve walked away from God emotionally. You rarely pray anymore.  You don’t search the Scriptures very often, and yet something inside of you wants to return.
  • Or maybe you’ve found the Christian life too demanding, and so you feel like giving up.

Some of us have a deep desire to be at home with Jesus; we want to go to the place he described in

John 14:2-5 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

But we feel like Thomas, when he said:  John 14:5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Do you ever feel like that?  Jesus, I want to be home with you.  I want to walk in your rest, mercy, and grace, but “How can I know the way?”

Jesus answered Thomas and us (and all who will every ask that question):  John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.

The Toll Bridge

Matthew 11:28–30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Looking for that kind of rest?  Anyone interested in finding the way home?

  • It would be nice if I could tell you today that the way home to Jesus is a freeway—a wide-open road with no toll booth or bridges demanding payment along the way. But that wouldn’t be true.
  • The way home to God is actually a Toll Bridge. A toll has to be paid and it is costly.
  • But the good news, the truth that we can all embrace, is that Jesus has already paid the price for you. He has cleared your path back to Him.

The theological term for this is substitutionary atonement.”  Big words with a simple meaning: The perfect Son of God paid the penalty we deserved for our wrongdoing so that we can go free.

All we have to do is receive this free gift of His grace, and we’re invited into His Home forever.

Amplified Bible 1 Peter 3:18: “For indeed Christ died for sins once for all, the Just and Righteous for the unjust and unrighteous [the Innocent for the guilty] so that He might bring us to God.”

The Self Reliance Trap

I Want to Pay for My Own Toll

As part of our Servant Evangelism we sometimes pay for the meal or coffee, toll if you will, for the person behind us.  Most of the time it’s fun and has brought people to church.

But some people are very proud, and they might get indignant saying, “No, I want to pay my own!”

  • Some people are too proud even to take free bread from a child trying to serve.
  • Oftentimes, people resist the free gift Jesus has paid for. They struggle to accept that the toll on the road home has already been paid in full.

I Want to Pay for My Own, But I Can’t Afford It

Some people will not only say, “I don’t need someone’s charity!”  Then they might go on to try to pay, even if they don’t have enough money.  Say the toll was one dollar, and someone tried to give the attendant one penny instead.  It’s not enough.

  • This is a common mistake in many people’s spiritual journeys. But the truth is, you can’t pay for something that’s already been paid for, and even if you pay for it, you can’t afford it!

I Can At Least Pay for Part of My Toll

I appreciate someone being willing to pay my toll for me, but I want to pay some of it myself.

  • Can you imagine how God might feel when we say, “Yes, I understand Jesus has paid for my sin, but I want to pay at least part of the price so I can feel proud of what I’ve done.”
  • “Here’s a handful of good deeds I’ve performed to earn my way to heaven.”
  • Can you see how that might frustrate God? Because the price Jesus paid was infinitely expensive—the perfect Son of God sacrificing His life so we can live on with Him forever in His Home and the price Jesus paid is enough.
  • God is not impressed when we offer a few good deeds in payment—our actions simply show that we’re still relying on ourselves, rather than on Him and His amazing grace.

The Performance Snare

Thank You for Paying My Toll, Now I’m Going to Pay You Back

Some people react to the free toll, saying, “Oh, wow, thanks for the gift—but now I’ve got to pay you back.  I’ve got to show you that you were right to give me a free ride.”

  • So, they try to prove they are worthy. They say, “I’ll be the perfect driver.  I’ll stay exactly at the speed limit, and I’ll report anyone who passes me.  I’ll pick up litter.  I’ll scrub the graffiti off the bridge.  I’ll show you I deserved that free toll.”

Again, that’s a picture of the mistakes we often make in response to the gift of God’s grace.  We receive it, but then we try to earn it on the back end by being the perfect Christian, by following the rules to the letter, by doing things we think will keep God happy with us.

  • But instead of resting in God’s love, where the yoke is easy and the burden is light, he subconsciously tried to show that God was justified in redeeming him.
  • Jesus had paid his toll in full, but Jud felt like he had to somehow repay Him. So, he got on a performance treadmill.  He would fast for days, he prayed endlessly, served the homeless. He gave away everything until all he had left was jeans, a shirt, and one pair of shoes.

People talked about what a mature Christian Jud was—and he was doing some good things, but it was with the wrong motivation.

Then he started wanting others to be as sacrificial as he was—and when they weren’t, he would start judging them for not doing enough.  This is how legalism is born.

No matter how much Jud served and prayed and sacrificed, it was never enough.  So, finally, Jud said, “I quit Christianity.  God, I’m not good enough.  I can’t do this Christianity thing.  I quit!”

He isn’t alone.  Too many Christians—maybe including some of us here today—have trouble resting gratefully in the grace of God.

  • You were saved by grace, and yet if the truth be told, you are trying to live by the sweat of your own performance.
  • Some people doing this will eventually drop out, like Jud, who said, “God, I still love you, but please don’t ask any more of me.”

Thankfully, God broke through to Jud, and he returned to Jesus and became the pastor of a thriving church.  But it wasn’t until Jud embraced the truth of God’s free gift that he was able to surrender his striving and live at peace with God.

The Way of Gratitude

We have the choice: Our performance or God’s grace.

1 John 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sin.

How we feel about God isn’t as important as how He feels about us.  He loved us and sent His Son to pay the toll for us.

  • It doesn’t matter how good we try to be; what’s important is how good God is.
  • He loved us before we did anything. All He wants us to do is love Him in return.

God doesn’t want you living like a slave—reading the Bible, praying, going to church, serving in a ministry, paying your tithe in order to justify yourself to God or earn your salvation.

Those activities aren’t bad things to do, unless you are doing them with the wrong motives.

God wants you to relax in His grace.  To give out of gratitude.  To read the Bible and pray out of a sincere desire to draw closer to the God who loves you so much.  To go to church because you want to worship the God of grace.  To live in obedience motivated by love.

Remember the verse from Matthew 11 that says, Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  The Greek word for rest means “to revive or restore.”  In other words, God is offering to revive us from the inside out—to free us from the relentless pressure of trying to prove God was right, after all, when He invited us into His Home.

Thank You for Paying My Toll.  I Am Grateful

The best way people can act when someone has already paid the toll for them is to receive that gift with a smile of gratitude and a simply say, “Thank you for what you did for me.”

So what kind of driver are you?

  • I Want to Pay for My Own Toll
  • I Want to Pay for My Own, But I Can’t Afford It
  • I Can At Least Pay for Part of My Toll
  • Thank You for Paying My Toll, Now I’m Going to Pay You Back
  • Thank You for Paying My Toll. I Am Grateful 

NEXT LIFE STEP:  This week I will determine what type of driver I tend to be.

Embracing the Truth

Maybe, today, you’re someone who doesn’t know the way Home.

You need a road map; you need a navigation system.

Well, fortunately, the Bible clearly lays out the route.

It’s been called The Roman Road by some, because it’s drawn from three verses in the New Testament book of Romans.  And if you follow the path these verses spell out, it will take you Home. 

Step One Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Does this even have to be debated?  We are all sinners, and I doubt if anyone here would claim that they are perfect.  Just go down the list of the Ten Commandments.  Have you ever lied?  Ever used God’s name in vain?  Ever stolen anything?  Ever committed adultery?  Remember, Jesus said anyone who lusts after someone has committed adultery in their heart.  We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s infinitely high standard of morality.  We’re all sinners who need a Savior.

Step Two – Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

Step Three – Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Jesus loved us enough to pay our toll!

Step Four – Romans 6:23 The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  The penalty we’ve earned for our wrongdoing is spiritual death, or eternal separation from God in a place called hell.  But on the Roman Road, Jesus has already paid our toll.

Step Five – Romans 10:9-10, 13  If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.          13 Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

NEXT LIFE STEP:  I will think about the Roman Road and how it applies to my life.  I will write it in the cover of my bible so I can take others down the road home to Jesus.

Like any gift, this gift of God’s grace isn’t ours until we receive it.  To “call on the name of the Lord” is to admit we’ve sinned and fallen short of his standards; to repent, or turn from that sin; and to gratefully receive Christ’s payment on behalf of our sins.  That’s how we enter a relationship with God

Believe + Receive = Become.

Are you ready to come home to Christ, once and for all?

Before we go, let me tell you the rest of the story about Chuck Templeton.  It turned out that Templeton’s eight objections to Christianity were the same ones Strobel had wrestled with when he was an atheist.  So, Strobel hit the road and traveled around the country to get solid answers to each question from top scholars, and then he wrote a book called The Case for Faith to respond to those issues.

The book ends with Strobel mailing the manuscript of the book to Templeton, along with a note that said, “Chuck, I hope you’ll take to heart what Proverbs 2:3–5 says: ‘If you scream for insight and call loudly for understanding, if you pursue it like you would money, and search it out as you would hidden treasure, then the Lord will be awesome to you, and you will come into possession of the knowledge of God.’”

As for the rest of the story, Templeton’s wife, Madeleine, later wrote to Strobel and said Chuck’s Alzheimer’s had gotten worse, he had cancer and was blind in one eye.  But she read him the manuscript and said he really appreciated it.

Strobel never knew if Templeton came back to Jesus before his death, but Madeleine did tell a newspaper columnist that right before Chuck died, he said all excitedly, “Can you see them?  Can you see them?  Angels are coming to take me Home.”  So maybe, like the Prodigal Son, Templeton is firmly in the embrace of his Heavenly Father.

Life App Group and Family Devotional Application

  1. Was there ever a time when you felt lost and had a strong desire to return home to Jesus? How did you?
  2. In your own words explain the theological term “substitutionary atonement.”
  3. Of the Five types of drivers that must pass over the toll bridge of life, what type of driver best describes you?
  4. Practice taking another Life App Group member or Family member down the Roman Road.

 

August 22nd, 2017

One Hour on Wednesday at Believers Church is an hour you don’t want to miss! Join us for a verse by verse Bible Study through the Book of Ephesians, Worship through Music and Prayer! EDGE Youth and College and Career meet  as well! We have Children’s Ministry for all ages. See you for One Hour on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.