LOSE THOSE WEIGHTS, CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

dreamstime_xxl_82954493Mother was no match for the angry waves. She was such a small woman, barely 5’4″, and maybe 115 lbs., and when she grabbed my eight-year-old hand to go walking in the sand as the ocean waves came in, she had a frantic child on her hands. Gradually, tiptoeing in the water where it dissipated into the sand, my fears calmed. Then she decided to go further out. Having been taught to take a bath in an inch of water, this was going to be a death march.

She tugged me out further, and the little swirling, sudsy water was not quite as fearsome as I thought. One little breaker would come to shore, followed by one a couple of inches higher. By finesse she walked us at a slight angle, and I didn’t realize we getting further from shore until the breakers were hitting my knees. They were various sizes, some small, some a little larger.

Mother didn’t know much about the ocean either. Soon she had tugged me until the waves were around my chest, and I was in a panic. At the same time, out of nowhere came one that went over our heads–and she let go of my hand. That seems millions of years ago, or yesterday. Whichever it was, I was rolling under the water, unable to process anything except strangling fear. Soon, either my mom or my dad found me and got me to shore. Being under the water is the lasting memory I have from the experience, and I hate the ocean to this day.

I have learned as an adult that worry can immobilize you just as surely as fear can. Both make you incapable of rational thought, both can lead to giving up. They are like chains: the link that is fear becomes a link of discouragement; we feel we are not capable to overcome something–an action, a habit, a spouse’s habit–and finally, we give up. Not good! So what can we do about it?

None of us are in this life to lose, are we? No one sets out to fail, with the intention strong in their heart “I’m going to start this day and FAIL just as big as I can!” No, we all want to win. Desiring to win is a great motivator, but before we can do that, we have to get rid of the extra baggage that we are carrying. How do we do that?

Get your Bible, your notebook for jotting thoughts down, and something to drink, then click on the link for the sermon from this past Sunday, preached by Jonathan Falwell at Thomas Road Baptist Church. Go to http://www.trbc.org/sermons and click the one for January 22, 2017. Gather everything you need, and settle in as the church learns how to get unchained from those things that would hold us back from being a winner. We are studying Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Planning University” series, and look forward to breaking free of the financial bondage that enslaves us. Study with us as we prepare our hearts to win this war with the enemy of our souls, set our lives and spirits free, and live an abundant life!

Overflow: Losing Weight to Win                                                                                           January 22, 2017                                                                                                                  Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

If you are desiring to engage in exercise, training, or athletics, there are some common sense principles that can hold you back; for instance, running with a heavy weight in each hand. Can you think of some examples?

This week we continue the series entitled “Overflow,” learning to rid ourselves of those things that keep us enslaved with debt. God’s will is that we live life abundantly, and to do so “owing no man anything” (Romans 13:8). As you prepare to work with Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Planning University” materials, spend time studying the weekly sermon—it will help you further equip yourself to be all that God desires.

Focal Passage: Hebrews 12:1-4

Think About or Discuss:

You’re Not Alone

  1. Read verse 1a. What are some reasons we buy into Satan’s lies that we are alone in our entanglement of problems? If you said “most people are ashamed to share their troubles,” you are very true. It is much easier to wear a mask, especially at church, and be thought “super-holy” or “super-successful!” Who are the witnesses the writer to the Hebrews was referring to in this section of verse?
  2. What are some by-products of being lonely? (Try to think of as many as you can, but they will also be listed at the end of the study.)

Let It Go!

  1. Read verse 1b. As you think back upon the opening statement, what are some encumbrances that hold you back from living your life to the fullest? How many things would you like to do for God that you cannot because of a lack of funds? Or lack of good health?
  2. Read James 1:5-8. What will God give you when you are not sure of the right way, the right purchase, or the right decision? How are you to ask?
  3. Read Isaiah 59:2. What will cause a disruption in your relationship with God? Just as sin hurts human relationships, can you see that it also hurts your relationship with God?
  4. How can you lay these “weights” aside? An “Action Plan” is included at the end as well.

Clean It Up

  1. Read verse 1c. How do you know that God does not tolerate sin? Why would even small sins trip you up in your walk with Him? When you have “gotten by” with a sin, what is your natural reaction (in the flesh)?
  2. Read Daniel 4:27-29a. How long did God give Nebuchadnezzar to repent after Daniel had warned him of consequences to his sin?

Never Quit

  1. Read verse 1d. Why should we never quit? Will you win if you quit?
  2. Read James 5:10, 11, and Revelation 3:10. What is the mark of a true believer in Christ?

Know What Matters

  1. There is only one way to end the race well. What is it?

Close:

The outcome of any race, athletic event, or even a healthy lifestyle with all its benefits comes only by ridding ourselves of the things that hold us back—those “weights” that so easily beset us. Did you list “worry” as one? Shoving through the fog of sleep to discipline our bodies (I Cor. 9:27)? No pain, no gain, is a common saying when it comes to training, and is so true, even in freeing ourselves from money traps. As we focus on financial freedom, we must lay aside the hindrances that got us ensnared in the first place! Was it to keep up with the neighbors? To have the latest and best electronic or the Toy of the Year? In all cases 1 John 2:16 tells us that these things come from lust: either of the eyes, the flesh, or pride. Lustful thoughts—desire—gives way to actions, which lead to sin, and ultimately we find ourselves in a bad relationship with God. By categorizing these weights, we can eliminate them one by one, until we are in a place where we can start the “Baby Steps” (Dave Ramsey, Video 1) to living a life free from financial chains!

Memory Verse: Hebrews 12:2: “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The Degrees of Loneliness (Point 1): Loneliness leads to Discouragement (at where we are), which leads to Fear (of what’s coming), which leads to Inadequacy (I can’t do this), which leads to Apathy (I’ll just quit trying.)

ACTION POINTS FOR LAYING ASIDE HINDRANCES: 1) Look for the weights; 2) Come up with a plan; 3) Stop sinning by getting into God’s Word; 4) Find out what our race is, and start it!

For a deeper study time, get comfortable with using the tools on www.Biblegateway.com or www.blueletterbible.org. They are very user-friendly!

© Creativecommonsstockphotos | Dreamstime Stock Photos

 

BREAKING THE CHAINS THAT BIND YOU!

100 dollar bills bill,currency,dollars,excess,god,green,money,rich,trust,usa

I entered the sanctuary, thinking (to my shame) that there was nothing I was going to learn during the next hour. I mean, really, how can you be married to a banker for a hundred years and not have heard everything about money that can be said? Or so I thought. I had gotten great at listening to the multitude of conversations with my husband as he told me loan request stories, the financial report stories, those to do with investing, stock graphs, dividends, ad nauseum, as I murmured a quiet “Oh, my!” or “Wow!” or just “Hmmm,” every few minutes while my mind was figuring out how I was going to decorate the hallway with new wallpaper. Budgets? Forget it, we had tried it and failed.

One thing about being married to someone in a profession where they serve the public is that requests for advice is a regular occurrence. It was quite often that someone would come up and ask if he could meet with them to discuss a financial situation. We considered this a good thing: it meant that God was using his knowledge of finances to benefit friends or family, and we considered it a ministry for him, outside of church commitments. One time he met with Joan and Barry (this was in another state, no one around here). They had been married for several years, had both been out of a previous marriage, and had been practically destitute of material goods; they had to start over at that time. Furniture, household goods, all the things that are taken for granted every day, had to be bought–which they had done with credit cards. Meanwhile, Barry was paying child support, and their outgo in those early years was more than $500 per month more than their income. They had decided to get their spiritual lives back in order, but tithing seemed an impossibility. By the time they sought my husband’s help, they were more than $65,000 in debt, and were getting ready to declare bankruptcy. Had they come in much earlier, he could have helped, but at that point it was almost like shooting a dead horse. Eventually, with his constant help, he did see them turn their lives around, and become debt free.

When Dave Ramsey came up to the platform at Thomas Road Baptist Church to begin speaking, from the first word he had my solid, undivided attention. Here was not only a motivational speaker, but someone who had been on top, been on the bottom, and probably every place in between. Those things I could relate to in a small way. But when he said that he made the decision to do it if it was in the Bible, or not do it if it wasn’t, he crossed the line into my box. I want to do God’s will, and the Bible is my guide. He had just become my brother and a mentor. He had given me a reason to listen to him.

My husband–who I thought knows everything that has a dollar sign in front of it–must have been as motivated as I, because, at the end of the service, he bought one of the Financial Peace University packets. We are both excited to see what God is going to do.

Grab you Bible, your notebook, and a cup of something hot, and get ready for a tremendous service from Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA., that may change your life, depending on where you are with your finances. Click on http://www.trbc.org/sermons and hit the play button for Sunday, January 15, 2017. If you have a little extra time, listen to the congregational music, relating the words to your situation of debt. God will be so faithful as you commit your heart to Him, releasing you from the biggest debt you’ll ever carry: that of your sin. Start this FPU series with a life that has been turned over to the Creator, and have all your sins forgiven! It will make life so much easier as you work to get freedom from the bondage of financial entanglements. If you have someone who can watch this with you, carry on a conversation about the things Dave Ramsey says; push pause often if you want to hear something again, or discuss a comment. However you listen, do it with a full heart, ready for God to break the chains that hold you prisoner!

Overflow: Proven Biblical Money Principles                                                                                  Dave Ramsey

Open:

It probably comes as no surprise that money problems are one of the greatest causes of dissension in a family, or stress on an individual. Can you think of reasons this is true?

Today we begin a new series entitled “Overflow.” With all the advertising thrown at us daily, it’s hard not to get caught up in having the latest version of everything available. However, in doing so, debt accumulates, which in turn causes problems for anyone trying to live the “American Dream.” At the same time, the Bible states that the borrower (the one in debt) is a slave to the lender (the bank, the credit card company, etc.) We are going to work our way through this series, hoping the reward will be financial freedom in our lives.

Think About or Discuss:

Live on a written Budget

  1. Read Job 25:2, and 1 Cor. 14:33. What is one of the attributes of God? How is a budget a thing of “order”? If you are by yourself, jot your thoughts down in a notebook; if you are with others, discuss the comments.
  2. Read Luke 14:28. Who is speaking here? What point is Christ trying to get across to the people? What eventually happens when spending is not controlled?

Avoid Debt

  1. Read Prov. 22:7. How does this verse translate to your paycheck and your bills?
  2. Read Romans 13:8. This is God’s word to you; what does it say? Is this God’s best for you?
  3. Read Luke 7:41-43. When Christ died on the cross of Calvary, what was happening to the sin debt that you were burdened with? Can you think of a greater example of freedom from debt than this?

Foster High Quality Relationships

  1. Read Prov. 13:20. Why are your companions so important? Can you think of examples, perhaps of friends who gravitate to those who are like-minded? Think about your own friends for a moment: are they the type that will build you up, or pull you down? Should you change your closest circle of friends?
  2. Read Isaiah 41:6. What happens when a rotten apple or a potato are in a bag with many good ones? What lesson does that teach you about having companions who are not serious about their walk with Jesus?

Save and Invest

  1. Read Eccl. 11:1-2. How are these verses a good plan for investing? Why does it make common sense?
  2. Can you paraphrase Matt. 25:10-29. What point was Jesus trying to make?

Be Incredibly Generous

  1. How does this principle illustrate the second of the “Two Greatest” commandments that Jesus gave?
  2. Read Deut. 15:10. This is Old Testament! What was God trying to get you to see in this verse?

Close:

Five things! Five ways to organize your finances that will eventually result in freedom from bills that seem to come every day. Credit card companies assume a payoff time of thirty years—the length of most mortgages. Meanwhile, you are working many of your hours per week just to pay the interest on those material things you charged—things that will soon be broken or tossed away, or possibly put in a yard sale. Take the first step and write out a budget: one that is sensible, yet gives boundaries for impulsive purchases. But as your finances need to be dealt with, be certain that you have also taken care of the greatest debt you’ll ever be chained by: that of your sin which can separate you from God! If someone came along and wrote you a check to cover all you owe, you would probably fall to your knees and cry. How much greater to know that He who had no sin became sin for you, so that you could [become free from your debt of sin, and] become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). Start with being free from that debt, and then move to your finances.

Memory Verse: Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

There are many verses that need to be read in today’s study, helping you realize God cares so very much about the way you handle money! He has told us that the love of it is the root of everything that is evil; He has also told us that He wants us to be good stewards of what He has entrusted to us. Take extra time on www.Biblegateway.com or www.blueletterbible.org, and study on your own some of the many examples that are written for us to learn to manage our finances well. He wants us to have life, and have it more abundantly!

If you can, attend Thomas Road Baptist Church and hear for yourselves the ways in which you can get financial freedom! Be sure to search out the study notes each week as well. May God bless you!

 

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A NEW YEAR, A NEW WALK, A NEW YOU!

Fireworks display with several different colored fireworks exploding in the sky.

She pointed to herself, and remarked, “There’s a SKINNY in here somewhere, and I’m going to find her!” I had to laugh at my friend. It was this morning, January 1, 2017, and a day in which we all traditionally start our New Year’s resolutions! I have learned the hard way not to stress myself–I’m not going to keep them more than 2 days! It’s much easier to take one of my favorite verses from Scripture out of context and relax in the words, “Bodily exercise profits little!” (1 Tim. 4:8–like I said, taken out of context.) But I still felt slightly victorious, as I had decided , back before Thanksgiving, to get up in the mornings in time to walk, at least three days per week–and if you knew me well, you would know I totally despise anything remotely connected to exercise. The fact that I am now going on 8 weeks is nothing short of a miracle. No, it is not a habit–even after three times a week for eight weeks: every stinking step, every drive to the place where I walk, is DISCIPLINE. Let’s make sure we understand there’s a big difference.

There are probably more decisions to lose weight, to be nice, to stop spending so much money, to exercise, or…. fill in the blank… on this day than any other day of the year. Did you make a resolution? Are you going to keep it?

The only one I’m faithful about (let’s wait awhile before we call the walking “faithful”) is my desire to read my Bible each year, or, depending on what I’m focused on, perhaps I may spread it out for two years. I love to study it with a goal in mind: this past two years I read it with the intention to find out why the apostles ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. I was amazed, as I went back through the OT, at how few times there are actual prayers in the Scriptures. Nehemiah prayed often, Solomon prayed often, but David took the prize. If ever you want to know how to pray, read the Psalms. His prayers are agonizing, beautiful, full of repentance, fruit, … they cover almost all topics. By having a goal, it keeps my mind much more focused as I read. It is not intended as a “pat me on the back,” but just a suggestion that there are ways to read it that will keep you concentrating on what you read. Do you often realize your mind has wandered? Then go back and re-read the paragraph. Once you do it often enough, you will keep your concentration better.

In today’s sermon, Jonathan Falwell quoted some amazing facts: facts that should make us sick to our stomachs, since most of us are dealing with a schedule so full that we don’t have “time” to do much for Christ except check off our to-do list on Sunday that we have attended church. As you listen to the sermon, prepare yourself for the statistics that say the average person checks their Smart Phone 150 times per day (someone in my family–not in this house–does that much in 2 hours, I kid you not!) Again, the average person watches tv approximately 3.6 hours per day. Does that make you gag? Garbage in, garbage out, right? Facebook racks up about 1 1/4 hours per day. We are now at approximately seven hours. When do people sleep, eat, work? Does God get the leftovers?

How would you feel if you were God, and you got the time that you give Him? Would you wonder at the depth of your love? Would you question whether He really is first in your life? Let us be sure we hunger and thirst after righteous, and seek Him—He will fulfill our needs if we put Him first, and this day is a great time to start off for the year!

If you haven’t heard the sermon preached at Thomas Road Baptist Church for Sunday, January 1, 2017, click on the link http://www.trbc.org/sermons and then click on the play button. Be sure you have your notebook, something hot to drink, and if someone can join you, make it a good discussion time! Enjoy the song service if you have time, but most of all, seek the Lord with your whole heart, and lean on Him for strength this year!

Open:

A new year! As you think of the coming months, what’s on your calendar? You probably know some of the challenges you are going to face—others may take you by surprise. How prepared do you feel to face the next twelve months?

When we consider the beginning of a new year, we generally think of things in our own life or family that we would like to change. We decide January 1 is a good day to start, so we make a “resolution” to begin a new way of eating, exercising, habits, or whatever it is we feel needs to be improved. As a Christian, this is a great time to make a commitment to read the Scripture every day and see how our lives reflect the standards Jesus has set for us. Do we “hunger and thirst” after righteousness? Do we desire a closer walk with Him more than we desire anything else? Do we want to “seek first the Kingdom of God”? Today is a good day to start, giving yourself a full year to draw nearer to Him, and you will find the “new walk” will produce a “new you”!

Focal Passages: Ephesians 4:17-32

Discuss:

A New Walk

  1. Read verses 17-19. Can you think of examples showing how this reflects the world we live in today?
  2. What do you consider your number one problem? Did you say “busyness”? Why is that a problem? Is boredom a problem?
  3. Be honest: when is your devotional life happening? If you are involved with your television, electronics, or listening to music for over 5 hours each day, do you discipline yourself to find time for God—hopefully first?
  4. Read verse 24. What does God expect of you? If you call yourself a Christian, do you intentionally seek a relationship with Him, or do you just hope it will happen at some point during the day?

Here are a list of commitments to make for this new year:

  1. Commit to make room in your schedule and your life for God.
  2. Commit to make time for your family—apart from movies, tv, or video games.
  3. Commit to make time for others, to serve and help them, perhaps even disciple them.

  A New You

  1. If you spend quality time dieting or exercising this new year, what would you expect to happen? How is that analogous to exercising your spirit with God’s word and serving Him?
  2. Who should benefit from your new focus if you truly make Him first in your life?
  3. In verses 21-32, what are some things that you should see go out of your life? What should replace them?

Here are a list of commitments for A New You:                                                               a. A commitment to live right (and get rid of the bad!)                                                b. A commitment to live better (renew your thoughts and attitudes)                        c. A commitment to live with eternity in mind (and share Him with the world)

 

Close:

As I said in the opening, my friend said “I’m starting a diet..there’s still a ‘skinny’ inside here!” In like manner, according to 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” There should be a “new creation” inside of us then! That should be our standard for this coming year: we call ourselves Christians, so therefore, a new creation is inside of us. Do you have things left over from the “old” person you were that is still taking up residence, but needs to be moved out? All things in your life should have become new when you were saved. Did it? When you are going about your daily business, can the world tell that you are a Christian by your actions? If not, something is desperately needing to change. Today is the first day of the new year—let it be a beginning that will find you, on December 31, 2017, in such a close relationship with Jesus Christ that everyone will know, just from being around you, that He is in residence in your life! Pray for those whom you love who need to hear that He loves them, and pray that He will open a door for you to witness to them in the coming days. Let this be the year that you evangelize your world!

Memory Verse: Ephesians 4:32: “Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”

Focal Passages: Ephesians 4:17-32.

 

 

Putting Self Last

pic7The fat chickens waddled around the yard, looking for more grain. We were thrilled! They were almost ready for the State Fair, where they would be entered as “meat birds,” meaning they were as plump as could be, and very young. We raised show chickens, turkeys, and geese, but the meat birds should take a blue ribbon! We had come up with a scheme that we thought was an original idea: each evening and night my husband would go out to the coop and turn on the light where the meat birds were. They thought it must be daytime, and would immediately go to the feed trough. After about ten minutes, he would turn the light off. This he did three times each night. By the time the fair was ready, the birds were as well! Taking them in cages, we happily trucked them to the Poultry Barn on the Fairgrounds.

It went as we hoped. On the day of judging, Blue Ribbons and Best of Show hung on the cages of our lovely meat birds. Some of the others won ribbons as well, but these in particular were the envy of many who had raised this type of chicken several times, whereas we were pretty new to the world of shows. The kids were proud to take many ribbons home from every fair we entered.

There was such a spiritual lesson in this season of our lives, as we look back upon the hours we spent each day with the care and maintenance of the poultry. It is a common saying (but not true!) that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The chickens were not old by any means–nor dogs–but they, like Pavlov’s dog, were able to have their focus redirected so that they learned a new lifestyle. We can as well. If you’re reading this study, it’s not too late for you! The Bible says in Hebrews, “today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart!” (Heb. 4:7b). It’s not too late. The lesson for us all is that it is never too late to become a child of God–no matter your past–and begin a new life. The consequences will never be erased, but the direction of your life can start anew. Jesus promises that if anyone comes to Him, He will make them into a new creation; old things will pass away, never to be remembered and brought up against you again, and all things in your life will become new. The consequences? In many cases He will give you opportunities to minister to people who are going/have gone through the same thing, and you will be able to minister to them, perhaps leading them to the Savior.

Many of us have a life that we once lived focused completely on ourselves. That is not God’s best for any of us. He desires that He comes first in our hearts, and that we value other people and their life, more than we value our own. Tough? You bet! But with God, all things are possible! Even getting along with someone who has been a foe. Nothing erases a hurt spirit like praying for those who hate us. Give God a chance to make all things new in your life, and, like the meat birds, learn a whole new way of living!

This is the perfect time to stop, get your notebook for notes and a friend, family or group of friends, and get comfortable. If you’ve already heard Sunday’s sermon from Thomas Road Baptist Church, jump right into the study below. If you haven’t heard it, click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, and select the sermon for November 27, 2016. If you have time, worship with the song service, then listen as Jonathan Falwell preaches the word of God. The study questions below will help you go a little further in depth, and perhaps something spoken or written will change your life, so that you, indeed, will love God and love people with all your heart, and Christmas will become a time of giving, not getting!

            SELF ON THE SHELF: REFOCUS OR REGRET!

Almost everyone has–at some time–realized that if we continue down a certain path, it can lead to an end we’re not ready for. Write down or discuss an example.

This week we enter the Christmas season, when our “wants” can easily become the focus of much money and time. God entered this earth to provide us with salvation through the greatest story ever told. It is only by intentionally taking the awareness off of our own desires and placing our focus on Him that we will get the truth of what His coming means to each of us.

Focal Passages: 1 John 2:15-17; Luke 1:5-14

Think About or Discuss:

God’s View

  1. In 1 John 2:15 and verse 17, what does God warn you to be alert for in your own life? He has told you what pleases Him in Luke 10:27. What does this mean to you personally?

QUESTION: This Christmas, how can I show my neighbor that he/she is more important than I am?

The World’s View

  1. Read verses 16 and 17. What does the world tempt you with constantly? Think of the commercials you see daily. Does the phrase “It’s all about me” sum them up?
  2. Can you illustrate with an example the truth that what should be the “Reason for the Season” has instead become all about you or your family?

QUESTION: What can you do to re-direct your focus from this path of having more “stuff,” to see that it is used for the good of others?

A Refocused Heart is One Fixed on Him

  1. In Luke 1:6,7, what are some characteristics of Elizabeth and Zechariah? List some feelings that would have been uppermost because of their inability to conceive.
  2. What did a childless couple endure in those days?

Even When Things Don’t Go Your Way

  1. Did they let the unanswered prayer for a child stop them from keeping their focus on loving God?

Refocus or Regret

  1. What did the angel tell Zechariah in verse 13b? Do you think that was a prayer that had been recent? Why or why not?

QUESTION: Where is your heart in the midst of disappointments, unanswered prayers, and shortcomings?

Close:

It hardly seems possible that we are again at the beginning of another Christmas season! As we enter this month, list some of the opportunities that are possible for you to help with through our church or community. In doing so, you can contribute to bringing the good news of the gospel to those outside the church. Examine your heart to make certain that your lifestyle is not hung up on adding more “things” to an already-overflowing home, and that you’re not breeding materialism in yourself. We all have today to begin on a new path that will yield eternal rewards. Pray that the joy of Christmas would be abiding in you every day, and that you pass it on to everyone you meet.

Daily:                                                                                                                                                              1) Praise God daily   (Psalm118:24)

2) Repent of your sins—never allow them to continue   (Psalm32:5)

3) Seek reconciliation with anyone who carries a grudge, has upset, hurt or been  unfair to you (Matthew 5:24)

4) Look for ways to bring joy to someone each day                                                                        (1 Thes.4:7)

5) Focus on what really matters (Phil. 4:8)

Memory Verse: 1 John 2:15: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.’”

Focal Passages: 1 John 2:15-17; Luke 1:5-15, Luke 10:27.

JOY IN YOUR LIFE!

A man with long hair standing in a field of dasies.

Deployment had finally come to an end. We were standing with a large crowd at the local armory, waiting for the buses that would be bringing the soldiers home. The street in front of the armory was lined with school children and adults, all waving flags, flowers and shouting greetings. The wait seemed forever! We knew they were getting close to arriving when we could hear the first shouts from farther away, where the line began. Soon we could see them, and it was only a minute until the first busload pulled into the parking lot. Everyone surged forward, trying to see if their loved one was getting off. The happiness radiated from everyone. Daddy, husband, son, brother and uncle had finally come home.

The following Sunday everyone gathered at Mom and Dad’s house for dinner–the children were anxious to get the eating finished so they could play. We just wanted to revel in the joy of having our son home again. We got a chuckle from learning that the next to youngest, about a year and half, had kept looking at the computer screen and then back at her “Papa.” They realized she was trying to figure out how he could have come out of the computer and was in the room with her! It was heartfelt joy deep inside to have him home again.

Joy is not the same thing as happiness. Joy is deep within you, something that cannot be taken away easily because it means you are part of something bigger than life: perhaps it’s your family, your school, a team, a marriage, becoming a parent, becoming a child of God. Joy is still there when happiness, which is often transient, comes and goes. We’re so happy with that new car–for awhile! Once the newness wears off (and we see one every block we travel, although we had never noticed them before), we’re ready for another “new” one. Money brings happiness for awhile, but it goes away once the money is gone.

This past Sunday at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA, Pastor Jonathan Falwell preached on Making Room For Joy. Get your notebook, a friend or group (or family), or sit by yourself in comfort and watch the sermon by clicking on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and selecting the service for November 13, 2016. If you have time, join in the song service prior to the sermon. Have your notebook ready to take notes, and then do the sermon study below. Do it as fast or as slowly as you desire; make it last the week, or do it all in one sitting. However you choose, know that the time spent studying God’s word will enrich your life, and bring you more “joy” than you’ve had!

Open:

Joy is heart-felt, deep inside us, even though we may be in circumstances that seem to be overpowering us. Can you think of one thing that robbed your joy this week? Did you do one thing that brought you joy this week? Get your notebook and write down thoughts as they come to your mind.

This week we are going to look at what is takes to make room for joy. Joy does not happen by accident, but through actions. Neither is it “happiness,” since happiness is usually passing, and not eternal. Let’s look at what it looks like, and how we get it.

Focal Passage: Galatians 5:13-26

Think About or Discuss:

To Serve in love

  1. In verse 13, what admonition does Paul give the believers? You have freedom in Christ, but how are you to use that freedom? What does this mean to you personally?
  2. Read Philippians 2:3,4. What is Paul saying in this verse?

QUESTION: What can you do for someone today that will put a genuine smile on their face?

To Speak in love

  1. What are you warned of in verse 15? Do you remember the word picture Pastor Jonathan explained for “biting, devouring, and destroying”? (Hint: wild animals attacking; see end of “Close”).
  2. If you are saturated with concern about the world and its impact on you, what room will you have for joy? Why?
  3. Who was Paul writing to? Why did he need to warn believers to stop these practices (verse 15)?

QUESTION: What can you say to someone today that will encourage them, or lift their spirits?

To Act in love

  1. What are the fruits of the Spirit? How do you get these to grow in your life? How does that example apply to a tree that should bring forth fruit?
  2. How can you practice doing the right thing, even when your flesh desires to take over or get even? Why will this become easier each time you do this?
  3. Read verses 19-21. Do you want a life like that? Yet it is a perfect definition of today’s world. What does verse 24 tell you?

QUESTION: How can you change your actions today to show the fruits of the Spirit to others?

To Reflect Christ in love

  1. Read 1 Peter 2:21. Whose example are you to follow? Why is the saying “What would Jesus do?” still very pertinent?

Close:

It is incredibly difficult to put the trials and pressures of the world out of your mind so that they do not take away the joy you have. Think about, discuss, or write down one word examples of things the world cannot take from you (for instance, your salvation). The fruits of the Spirit are easy to quote, but very hard to put into practice, yet they should be something produced in you effortlessly as you become more like Christ. Real joy will come when your personal desires are at war with doing what is right, and you stop, take a breath, then do the right thing. Those small victories will come more often, and grow into habits. Pray that the joy of Christ would be abiding in you, and that you would be used to pass it on to others this week.

Memory Verse: Galatians 5:14: “For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Focal Passages: Galatians 5:13-26; Phil. 2:3, 4; 1 Peter 2:21.

The word picture for “biting, devouring, and destroying” (verse 15) was the scenario of wild animals attacking each other until one was killed, then eating it. Another famous example of the original language used here was two snakes that fought until each had the other’s tail in its mouth, devouring each other until nothing was left except a “hoop.” They were eventually knocked loose by a stick, revived, and were killed. (Silas C. Turnbo, The Turnbo Manuscripts). No Christian should grieve the heart of God by acting in this manner!

Further study on Question 1: Romans 6.

Have a blessed week in Christ!

 

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CHOOSING THE BEST FOR YOURSELF OR SOMEONE ELSE?

Strawberries and Fruits

As you walked in the front door, the smells of luscious desserts, fruits, fresh coffee and the aroma from tons of hors d’oeuvres made your mouth water. The house was as clean as possible, waiting for all the guests that had been invited. A politician was coming, one who was running for a state office, and who was happy to come to any home where he could present his platform.

This was not something we usually did: we generally would have friends, visiting pastors or evangelists in to eat, but never had we had a politician. Now, years later, I can’t remember who he was, or what he looked like, but like Lincoln at Gettysburg, I can tell you what he said.

When everyone had their plates full and were settled in, he took the floor. His first words were somewhat of a shock–which is probably why I’ve remembered them as if they had been spoken yesterday. “Everything you do, every choice you make, can usually fall into one of two categories: either you are doing what is best for another person (or group), or what is best for yourself.”

Over the years I’ve tried to find fault with what he said that evening. What about visiting John Doe in the hospital? We both benefit, don’t we? But what was my main motive? To cheer Mr. Doe, or look good in the eyes of those who might find out I had gone? It has caused me to dissect my heart under the microscope of God’s vision, making sure pride is not at the root of many of my actions. I’m afraid, to my shame, it often is.

Your choices can impact so many people, and do it so quickly, can’t they? Right now you have made a choice to read this sermon study, and possibly dig into the Scriptures in order to learn what Christ wants you to do with them, and how best to apply them. If you’re ready, get your notebook, a cup of coffee (or tea!), and click on the sermon preached at Thomas Road Baptist Church, Sunday, October 2, 2016 by Pastor Jonathan Falwell. Just go to http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, then click “select” for the last sermon. If you have time, watch the entire service, then go through the questions below. You can do a couple each day, or do them all in one day if you have time. Ask a friend to join you, save it for the family or a group, but most of all worship the Lord with the congregation at TRBC, and see what God has for you today.

Open:
Is it truly possible that each day your choices are made for one of two motives: for the good of others, or for the good of yourself? Can you think of an example from your activities this week, and which category did the choice(s) fall into? Take a moment to jot your thoughts down in your notebook.

This week Pastor Falwell continues the series, “Unfinished,” looking at the wise counsel in Paul’s instructions to make choices that will bring you peace and joy through Jesus Christ, rather than choosing the temporal pleasures of sin such as the world is making today. You can either make a choice to stop sin dead in its tracks in your life, and pursue serving and trusting God, or choose a path that results in a totally self-centered life.

Read Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

Think About or Discuss:

Sin will keep you from the presence and the power of God
1.    As you read verses 2-4, which description of the corruption of man struck you as being a clear picture of society today? Who is benefiting from the choices made by the type of persons spoken of in those verses?
2.    More than likely you thought of someone in your own family who fell into one of these categories. What can you do for them immediately? How much do you believe in the power of prayer? James 5:16b says that the prayer of a righteous person is very effective. Do you really believe this?

Self-deception doesn’t make things better
3.    Verse 5a spoke of those who have a “form of godliness, but deny its power.” They are saying, “I don’t need God!” Sadly, many consider the pleasures of sin to be worth more than a life lived for Jesus Christ. Yet they consider “going forward” to pray a prayer as evidence they are saved. Paul reminds all of us that being religious is not the same as living a righteous life. Read Matthew 7:16, 17: how can you know someone is saved?
4.    According to a Barna research, most people believe they are going to heaven, even though they live like the world. What does Romans 6:23 tell you? How does this reflect the verses in the passage in Timothy?

Turn away!
5.    Why does verse 5b tell you to turn away from being companions of those who say they don’t need God (paraphrase, 5a), and those listed in 6-9?
6.    If you are to stop sin in your life so that you can become a “vessel fit for His use” what is the first step you must take (hint: 1 John 1:9)?
7.    Hebrews 11:6 gives you the second step of faith in finishing the task God has given; what is it?
8.    Often it is only after a trial that you can look back and see how God brought you through. Psalm 73:26 tells you to look to God for your strength. Why?

Close:
Paul made it very clear that being religious does not fulfil the law of Christ. As he lists the society found in the days when men are each doing “what is right in their own eyes,” (Proverbs 21:2), it sounds like the world today. Did you not identify so many of the people you rub shoulders with daily, as he listed those who are in effect saying, “God, leave me alone!”? He concludes this section by reminding Timothy—and you—to not be companions with them, as they will lead you away from the truth. You can love them, witness to them, but do not take them as a “best friend.” The only way you can stop the sin in your life is to be vigilant about your lifestyle. Keep a short account with God, confessing sins as they occur and turning from them, being diligent to study the Scriptures so you can apply them to your life, and being dependent upon God for the strength each day to see that He alone is the one on the throne of your heart. As you begin this new week, pray for the others in your life, as well as yourself, that all would trust Him for the grace and power to live each day pleasing Him.

Memory Verse: 2 Timothy 2:22: “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

Focal Passage: 2 Timothy, Chapter 3:1-9

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WHAT IS YOUR TESTIMONY LIKE?

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She walked into the room, the newest employee, with everyone staring at her. Her black hair hung down in natural curls, and was very lovely. Actually, she had a gorgeous, classy look, and I liked what I saw. Perhaps, being one of the only two female agents in an office dominated with men, we could be friends, I thought.

Later, we went to lunch together, and every other word out of her mouth was one that would make a sailor blush (no offense to sailors, it’s just an old saying where I come from). Although her conversation was “normal,” I couldn’t get past the profanity–something I seldom heard, unless out in a crowd. But for her, it was as natural as  breathing. How could someone so pretty need to have the shock value of using so many 4-8 letter words?? It blew my mind.

By the second week she had been there, we had to work an assignment together, and I got the full force of her filthy mouth. She began talking about her church, her pastor, and the choir (she could sing, along with being gorgeous). Finally, in desperation, I faced her directly. “Are you saying you’re a Christian?” I asked. “Absolutely! No doubt in my mind!” she replied. I couldn’t hold back, “Do you know what? Your testimony STINKS!” I told her. “If you have to use an expletive every other word in every single sentence, there’s a gap between what you believe and what the Bible says about the way you talk! And not only that, if you have to have make a statement that needs profanity every other word, what you have to say is not worth the hearing!”

She sat in stunned silence. I guess it was the first time in her life that anyone had ever been so bold as to tell her what it sounded like to someone who did not use language like she did. She waited until she could digest what I had said. Finally I learned that her mother had raised her from babyhood using every word with a cursing adjective, and it was normal for her. She came back to me days later, saying she had prayed about trying to clean up her language, but she didn’t know if she could do it. “Without strength from God, you can’t,” I told her. “You are going to be making a major life-adjustment. But it is something that could be holding you back from living as God desires.” She nodded, for she understood.

I thought back to my own mom, who was so kind and good. One day I said a four-letter word I had heard, s***. My mom grabbed me by the arm, took me over to the sink, and with a bar of soap, washed all the “filthiness” out of my mouth. By the time that was over, I didn’t want to ever say anything wrong again! Not long afterward, mother was bent down trying to light the gas oven that was on the bottom of our stove. She got burned, and suddenly that same four-letter word flew out of her mouth. I had an expression rather like the child above. She realized what she had done, how she had punished me, and I never–the rest of her years until she turned 90 and died–heard her say a curse word.

If we don’t live our faith out in the work place, in the areas where we shop, with our friends, or where we congregate with acquaintances, then what we hear on Sunday morning from the preacher isn’t taking root in our lives, only space on our memory card. Rather like spam on our email account. Or worse, phishing or hacking. It’s Satan’s way of ruining our testimony.

Get your Bible and your notebook, a friend if you have someone share this time with you, or a group if you can, and click on the link to the last sermon preached at Thomas Road Baptist Church, Sunday, September 25, 2016: http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and join with others who will take time to listen to the Word of God, perhaps even worship with the music, and then have a time of study below. You can stretch it out to last all week, or do it all in one day. This chapter to be studied is so full of nuggets of gold that you’ll want to retain it, memorize it, and apply it to your life. In that way, you can be a testimony of the grace which God has bestowed on you!

UNFINISHED: Living Your Faith In the Margins                                                                                                                                               Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

Do you have a list of things you would like to see yourself do within the foreseeable future, but are not sure you can finish? Perhaps get  a college education, or knowledge of a certain job skill. Sometimes it’s easier not to go back to it than try, and then fail. Can you think of an example, and write down how you think you would feel if you complete it?

As we continue the series, “Unfinished,” we are focusing on the wealth of wise counsel in Paul’s final words to Timothy. He knew death was imminent, and wanted Timothy—and believers throughout the ages—to live life to its fullest through Jesus Christ. Today we focus on taking the word we hear preached in the church and apply it to our daily activities as we go about our daily routine.

Read Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 2:1-26

Think About or Discuss:

Be Strong

  1. Think about how often you take on a task, and feel it is too overwhelming, and you want to give up. If God has called you to do this (job, duty, mission), how does He expect you to see it to completion? At the end of the day, where has your strength come from?
  2. Has there been a situation where you felt it would be impossible to get through, but later could look back and see His strength being poured into you daily? What was it? Have your notebook handy to write down ideas that come to mind.

The Gospel Still Works

  1. As you read verse 9 , you saw that Paul reminded us that whatever our own situation, God is still in complete control, and the gospel is “unchained,” or free to save no matter the situation. 2 Cor. 5:17 tells us that when we become believers, our old nature passes away and all things become new. Share or write down how that change is making changes in you as you live daily for Him.
  2. Why is it important that you internalize the knowledge each day that you are living a new life? Do you realize your actions are a testimony of God’s power?

Live Differently

  1. Why does Paul say in verse 15 to “study” God’s Word? What can you apply God’s desires for your life unless you know His revealed will from His word? God’s letters to us through the Bible are like an instruction manual that comes with something you are unfamiliar with: only by studying can you learn how to operate what you have gotten!

Use Your Faith in the Real World

  1. Without a doubt, Paul spent his time in the “real world.” His entire focus was telling lost souls how to respond to the love of God and be saved. How are you different from those you are around every day?
  2. What are some ways you can draw strength and encouragement throughout your week, or when times are hard? And how can you yourself give strength and encouragement to others when they are going through tough times?

To Finish What Christ Began

  1. In verses 24-26, Paul admonishes us to treat others with love and humility. You cannot separate love and truth. Who will listen to you if you do not show love to them first?
  2. How can you continue the work Christ began? What are some things you can do in your sphere of influence?

Close:

Going to church, meeting together on Sundays and possibly Wednesdays, or attending a Bible Study, all feed your spirit and encourages you. But in those situations, all (or most) in attendance are of the same mindset as you, and in a way, isolated from the filth, immorality, profanity, and hatred that you might face in your day-to-day activities. As you close this session, it is so imperative that you study the chapter with the intention of learning and applying how God wants you to carry out His mission. Perhaps even write down some of the ideas Paul’s instructions create in you. He wants you to be living in victory every day, no matter what circumstances you find yourself in, while you are dealing with people who may be living so differently than you live. Treat them with respect, love them, invite them to come to church with you. Most of all, show them that each day you want to live your life pleasing to Him who died for you!

Memory Verse: 2 Timothy 2:15: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the world of truth.”

Focal Passage: 2 Timothy, Chapter 2

© Photomaniac | Dreamstime Stock Photosdreamstimefree_286286

 

 

 

Pulling Out a 4th Quarter Win!

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She was one of the “greats.” You know the type, they dress casually but always look classy, she could sing off the charts, and did so very often, glorifying God with her beautiful voice. She spoke to groups, always encouraging them to stay in the fight, cling to God, home and family. She was everything I wished to be. Yet her home life was a different story. Who knows why a husband who “talks the talk” doesn’t “walk the walk”? Perhaps he was intimidated by his wife’s popularity, or perhaps jealous. There are always two sides to the story, of course. We never discussed his. All I knew was that he verbally abused her beyond what any woman should ever have to take, stopping short of physical abuse, but the look in his eyes often said he wished she was dead. She looked terrible, (he would yell), the song stunk, her presentation was awful, the kids hated her, she was stupid, a terrible housewife, horrible mother, etc. etc.

One evening a neighbor heard the verbal barrage, heard the door slam off the hinges as the husband grabbed their child and left in anger, and couldn’t stand it. He just wanted her to know she was doing everything right. It was so wrong, but he held her just a moment for a non-threatening hug while she sobbed her heart out. His concern took a different turn, and one moment of what should have been a consolation from a friend turned into a very short time of intimacy. Now–added to her life of hell in the home–she had failed her God. She had heard His quiet voice when the comfort started, but somehow, in the despair of the few moments, it became quiet. Her repentance was genuine, her grief over the short brief coming together sickened her. One month went by, two… and there was no denying it: she was pregnant.

She never told anyone the baby did not belong to her husband. Very fortunately, the adorable girl looked like her mom, acted like her, and only if you knew who the father was, would you have connected any dots. The child is grown, happy, loves her family, and would be devastated to find that she was the product of one moment in time. She is now looking forward to her own ministry, never knowing the past.

Did our women’s leader blame God for her pregnancy, for the lack of strength to resist comfort which she so desperately needed? No, she blamed herself. Took upon herself the mantle of responsibility, and did not let bitterness take root in her heart. But be warned, husbands, a wife looks to you for her affirmation; she needs to know that she is loved in your eyes. Without it, a woman is vulnerable to the comfort of others, even while she’s desperately trying to keep the enemy away.

I have watched her grow more and more in her faith, have seen the strength she gets only from the Lord. I’ve seen the love she pours out to her children, and yes, even to her husband who has continued to belittle her. Many years have passed, but she is hanging in there, witnessing, watching her children grow into responsible adults, and yet that terrible scar of a deep wound is part of her heart. Many people cannot understand how God can be holy and still forgive sins so great, but He can, does, and will still use the sinner. No sin is too great that He cannot or will not forgive. Hers was just one that He died for.

Take your Bible, your note book, and sit for a few minutes to listen to the sermon from Sunday, August 14, 2016, at http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, preached at Thomas Road Baptist Church. Select the correct sermon, then work on the questions below, writing out your answers, or–if you’re in a group setting with a friend or even several friends–talk about the lessons that can be applied to our lives.

We will look at Moses, finishing the series that has taught us so much over the past few weeks. Moses obeyed God in all He told him to do–except one incident recorded in Numbers, chapter 20. Moses exhibited frustration, anger, perhaps a bit of pride, but definitely he felt “fed up” with the people who constantly belittled everything he tried to do as they lived in the wilderness for forty years. In letting his anger rule, rather than God’s command, it cost him the opportunity to accompany the people into the land that God had promised them. Did he become bitter about it? Wouldn’t we have said, “God! How fair is that, that I’ve done everything You asked, and You let this one time be such a huge punishment??” Bitterness, turning away from God, giving up on what He did for you in dying–all that is something that happens to thousands every day; it is only the ones who pick up the pieces, and determine to “finish strong” that find God will and does still use them in His great work. It is, after all, HIS work, not ours!

Open:

It takes only a fraction of a second to make a choice that has consequences that can last for the rest of your life. You know, however, that you have the choice to let the past go, and finish with integrity. Can you think of an example? Talk about it, or write it down.

Over the past several weeks we have learned lessons from the life of Moses, starting with his birth until, at 80 years of age, he led the children of Israel out of Egypt, where he guided them for forty years. Today we focus on one incident when his disobedience to God cost him the reward of going into the promised land. Still, he did not become bitter, but continued to be passionate in serving God.

Think About or Discuss:

  1. Read Numbers 20:1-12 for a background of Moses’ act of disobedience. Keep your notebook handy to write down things that come to your mind.
  2. If God had ignored Moses’ action, what lessons would that have taught Israel about disobeying and dishonoring Him? Would the importance and authority of the Ten Commandments have been treated with respect? Which commandment did it violate in particular (Exodus 20:1-17)?

He didn’t let his past failure keep him from his future obedience

  1. In Numbers 20:12, how do you think Moses felt when God reprimanded and punished him in front of the multitude?
  2. How would you have felt if it had happened to you (perhaps a large group, or your company)? Would you have been angry at God, or understood He chastens those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:7-9)?

He continued to lead

  1. Afterwards, God continued to give Moses instructions in Numbers 20. What does verse 27 say? What does this tell you about the heart of Moses?
  2. Think of a time when your own disobedience caused God to have to discipline you. Did you let the bitterness give you a reason to walk away from God for a season, or did you trust Him enough to continue to follow Him?

He continued to bless those around him

  1. If you go back to Deut. 31 (read it on your own), you will see Moses pours his remaining days into blessing the tribes of Israel, mentoring Eleazar to take the place of Aaron, and preparing Joshua to take his own place. What do these actions tell you about his inner character?
  2. Ask yourself a very serious question: in the same circumstances, would you (or have you) continued serving God with a passion, or shut Him out of your life?

Key Point: It was GOD’S work, not Moses’

Close:

It would have been so easy to let the humiliation of the one act of disobedience take root and grow a “root” of bitterness. Read Hebrews 12:15. Most believers have had times of God’s disciplining, and have sometimes felt it unfair (from our perspective). As you go into a new week, think about the things in your life that need to be dealt with so that you let the past go, and finish strong.  Also, most everyone knows someone who feels they have been hurt or treated unfairly, and have turned away from God (read James 5:20).  See if they will be open to talking with you about their actions. Pray this week that you will examine your heart, being certain that God has first place in all you do and say, and that you are committed to serving Him until He calls you home.

Memory Verse: Deut. 31:6: “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

Focal Passages: Numbers 20:1-12, 27; Deut. 34:1-8.

Quote for finishing strong: Having a “4th Quarter Ministry!” Jerry Falwell, Sr.

 

 

Choosing to Live Victoriously!

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 The loud clanging jarred the quiet night, waking us both from sound sleep. It took a moment to realize it was the telephone. Two a.m.! Only an emergency in the family or Protective Services would call at such an hour. Sure enough, it was Protective Services for our state.

We never knew when they called what was going to be the story, but it was never pretty. Normal children did not end up being taken from their homes in the middle of the night. This was no different.

A young set of twins had been removed from their home; one had a broken leg and broken arm, and the other was unharmed (physically speaking). We were used to the traumatized babies and toddlers, and along with our own pre-schoolers, lived a life full of stress. Being a home where Protective Services could come, day or night, with an abused child was something our own children experienced on a regular basis.

It took great endurance to get through the first few days as a new child settled in. Even though they were abused, the familiarity they had known was taken away, replaced with different voices, different routines, different food: their whole life was uprooted and crying was their major outlet.

Were we perfect at doing the chaotic lifestyle? By no means. Many days we got so tired of hearing little ones screaming, or toddlers breaking items for attention, or fighting, or a million other examples, that quitting seemed a good solution. Other days we felt we could make it! But looking back, there were so many times and so many situations we wish we could have handled differently. As in any care-giving, the books address the “norm” but seldom does one encounter it in real life. Thinking on those days, we wish we could do it all over, but with the wisdom and experience that we didn’t have at the time. I didn’t feel like an “Overcomer” at the time!

Being victorious as life throws curve balls is what we all wish for! It’s being an “Overcomer” and making choices that keep you from wishing you had done it differently. This is a good time to stop and watch the sermon from Thomas Road Baptist Church for Sunday, July 3, 2016, before going further with the Sermon Study below. Go to (or possibly click on) http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, and click on Select for the correct date. After watching, get your notebook, grab a coke, and start the study. If you have a friend who can watch and study with you, that’s great–or your family. Use it for the week, or do it in one sitting. Either way, enjoy the benefits of being an Overcomer for the Lord.

A common expression is “You’re either going in to, coming out of, or in the middle of a crisis at all times.” Life brings trials! We all want to come through in victory—no matter how small or great the test. Can you think of an example from your own life?

This week Thomas Road begins a new series, “What It Takes To Be an Overcomer,” examining the qualities we need to be victorious as we go through periods of trouble. We will focus on the life of Moses, a man who went through ordeals from his birth to his death, yet God called him to do great (and difficult) things, and later said he “was the most humble man on the earth.” Let’s look at what made Moses an overcomer, and what we can learn from him.

Think About or Discuss:

  1. Read Hebrews 11:23-29. In these few short verses, Moses took a stand several times that showed extreme courage. What were they? Keep your notebook handy to write in, and list these. Each was a huge choice.
  2. How would you label Moses’ character—was he more concerned about pleasing God or having people like him? Can you yourself be an overcomer if your goal is to please people?

Faith

  1. How did Moses determine his course of action each time? Why was that important? Is that important to you?
  2. Read Hebrews 11:1. The definition of faith (complete trust or confidence in someone or a strong belief in God) is described further here. What role did his faith play in Moses’ decisions? What about your decisions–are they based on faith?
  3. We do not know how Moses knew the God of his fathers, or how he knew he was Hebrew, but what were some of the things he gave up to do God’s will?

Looking to God for Significance

  1. Read verse 24b-25. It is so easy to get your support or “validation” from your friends. Who do you look to for approval? Have friends ever led you astray? How do you learn that only God’s promises can be relied on?
  2. In what ways does the faith of Moses challenge you in your daily life?

Recognition of What Matters

  1. Read verse 26. Can you think of something you have given up recently because you desire to honor God more than treasures on earth?
  2. How conscious are you of serving Christ as you go about your daily routine?

Close:

Moses was definitely an overcomer! Born of humble beginnings at a time when Pharaoh decreed all Hebrew boys be killed at birth, to leading the Israelites for forty years, he faithfully kept his eyes on God. As you think on his life, write down  times you’ve failed to be victorious because you looked to friends or acquaintances for help, rather than Christ. Pray for victory through the trials, as no one walks the Christian life without troubles, and all circumstances need prayer. Be alert to choices as challenges come your way, and make the decision beforehand to be an overcomer this week. Be conscious of the desire to be triumphant in your walk (2 Cor. 2:14).

Memory Verse: Exodus 2:24: “So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.”

Focal Passage: Hebrews 11:23-29.