WHAT OR WHO ARE YOUR GIANTS??

The grandkids (girls, but who’s checking except folks in Wisconsin) came running in from the pool yesterday, sure a “monster” was beating on the outside of the high pool fence. The wind was blowing about 30 mph, enough to shake leaves out of a summer tree and beat branches against wood. That knowledge didn’t phase them: it was someone on the outside, probably a big person wanting to eat young girls.

For some reason, I thought “boogey men” had disappeared years ago. With the Super Heroes becoming bigger, better, more powerful, able to climb skyscrapers, and stretch their bodies to unbelievable lengths, I assumed no one feared giants anymore. Wrong. Perhaps I needed the girls’ perspective to realize that we all have monsters–or giants–in our lives today. They hold us back from doing things we used to love, perhaps from taking that adventure we’d like to enjoy. Holding us back from “seizing the day,” or enjoying life as we live one day at a time.

As Jonathan Falwell preached on David and Goliath Sunday, August 6, he pulled out lessons we all can glean from David’s courageous stand against a giant who was possibly twice his height, and certainly three or four times his weight. We usually can’t stand against someone our own size who wants to take us down, let alone a Goliath.

Has it ever occurred to you that we all have “Goliaths” in our lives? Whether they are people who are trying to destroy us emotionally because they are adult bullies–or not taking any responsibility for their evil deeds–or a group who belittles us in order to build themselves up, they are a giant to us. Perhaps it’s not a person, but a circumstance: maybe you’ve had a doctor’s report of a terminal illness, your finances have gone down the tube, or loved ones engaged in spiritual warfare from paranoid, demon-controlled enemies. Whatever the attack, we all have our personal giants. Fear is a natural outcome to listening to the jeers of those against us. A quote by Marshall Jones, Jr. lays it out for us: fear is the state we are in, courage is how we want to exhibit in that state. For those of us who love God, the good news is that we have a hope and a courage that those people, those circumstances, or those trials don’t have, and which cannot be taken away from us! Our trust is in the Lord our God, and His mighty hand will suddenly and efficiently bring an end to the harassment of the wicked. Day after day Goliath taunted the soldiers of Israel. But God will slay our giants if we just step aside and trust Him fully. “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will [trust in] the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.” (Psalm 20:7,8). David’s trust in God was overwhelming! May ours be as great when faced with enemies of God!

Get your Bible, your notebook, and something you love to drink, and watch the sermon from this past Sunday. Go to http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and select Flannelgraph of Faith: Facing the Giant. Spend the first moments in worshiping with the praise team and choir, and sit back and enjoy the service. Then scroll down to the sermon study and delve into the lessons you learned, taking down those giants one by one, giving you a life of freedom from situations or people who want to see you fail. Slay those giants!

Flannelgraph of Faith: Fighting the Giant

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

If you spend more than a few moments with someone, you usually will learn they are fighting some sort of “giant” in their life, whether it’s physical, spiritual or emotional. Can you think of an example? Have your notebook handy and write your answers if you’re not in a group where you can share.

We continue our series this week, looking at the characters we learned about when we were children, using the decades-old idea of a flannelgraph. This week we are looking at a story familiar to almost everyone: that of David, the youth of Israel who had the courage to take a slingshot and a stone, killing an enemy giant, Goliath. We are looking for deeper lessons inside this piece of history. As we re-examine this story, we want to find principles to look for the giants in our own lives, and use David’s example to help us slay our “Goliaths.”

Focal Passages: I Samuel 17

The Background:

Read 1 Samuel 17:1-22 to get a background on both the Israelites who were preparing to fight the enemy Philistines, and David, the youth from Israel who was sent on a mission by his father.

Think About or Discuss:

The Greatest Challenge in Life is Rarely the Actual Challenge:

  1. Read 1 Sam. 17:22-24. What was the first thing David heard as he entered the camp?
  2. What was his immediate response (verse 26b)? Imagine the situation; what was probably some of the ridicule hurled at him? Verse 28 records the words of his older brother; how would that make you feel, being verbally attacked by a family member who you think loves you?
  3. What were the antagonists trying to accomplish? Why was such an attack made by men who were experienced warriors? What was the real challenge here that David had to overcome?

Facing Opposition While Doing God’s Will Should be Expected

  1. Where did David get his confidence to go against Goliath?
  2. Which is harder: going against our peers, or sitting among them saying nothing? Why?
  3. Read Matthew 5:10-12, and 2 Timothy 3:11b-13. Why does God record these passages for us?

Your Success or Failure is Directly Related to How You Handle that Opposition

  1. Can you achieve a desire to serve God in a certain area, if you let fear hold you back? Why or why not?
  2. Can you think of a fear you have, and tell or write down how it has affected your life?

 Depending on God’s Power in the Face of Your Biggest Giant is Always a Winner:

 

  1. Who was Goliath trusting in? Who was David trusting in? Read verses 34-37. Do you think it even crossed David’s mind that he could lose? Why?

Close:

What a marvelous gift, to have a trust so great in our Holy God that we will go up against the most evil giant we can encounter!  David, even though young and surrounded by much older men, found himself angered as he saw the fear paralyzing the soldiers. His amazing faith in God, developed through his experiences in the wilderness watching sheep and worshiping his Creator, left him stunned that others would take no action against someone insulting the Living God. It would have been so easy to give in to the jeers of men, and run for home. But David was convinced in his soul that God would win the victory for him, and failing to act was not an option David even considered.

How about you? Have you let the giants in your life dictate your choices? They can be your friends, criticism, your appearance, a disability—so many possibilities. Some physical traits perhaps were given to us by God to make us stronger! Think for a moment of those you know in your church who are such a great example of being strong for Christ, though weak or physically scarred by the world’s standards. Follow David’s example and work on trusting God with everything you are, so that you can eliminate the giants that want to take you down and cause you to be incapable of serving Him. You will soon be able to tell you are succeeding: whenever you are doing God’s will, you will have opposition. You will never have spiritual warfare unless you are doing something spiritual!

Memory Verse: I Samuel 17:47: Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands. (NKJV)

Ask Yourself: Are my giants destroying my effectiveness as a Christian? Am I giving in to the persecution and fear, or am I trusting without question? How can I trust more fully? Am I praying to God for more faith?

 

 

 

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Power Under Control, or Without Control?

Close-up of an anonymous athletic torso

 

 

 

Just as we sat down to supper we heard the crash of a vehicle against the pasture fence. Jumping up, we ran to the front door, seeing a Jeep laying on its side, the tires still spinning and the heavy wooden fence obliterated. A young adult female was near the ditch. We called 911, obviously needing an ambulance and police.

The rural countryside was not filled with neighbors–most of us were on land that might be anywhere from five to five hundred acres. It was only seconds, though, before the closest neighbors began running toward the scene, as the sound of the crash had reverberated throughout the quiet area. The girl had sat up, but you could see she was in total shock. She kept asking, “Is he dead?” We didn’t see anyone else around–until we walked around the vehicle. There, under what had been the right side, was a young man, pinned between the ground and the Jeep. All we could see was part of his head, and his face was turning gray.

There were four or five men around us by then, and I frantically tried to convey to 911 that we were almost out of time. His gray face was now beginning to go to the purplish-blue, and we knew he was going to die as we watched, being crushed by the weight of the Jeep.

My husband took command, telling the  few men to grab part of the heavy vehicle. Four men, lifting one car, one to move the man. There was nothing we women could do, except watch and pray. On the count of three, my husband told the men to lift the vehicle up–even a few inches might get his body out from under the weight of metal. The man who was ready to pull the body was in position–it might be dangerous, but death was so close we had no choice. My husband counted, and the four men heaved the massive weight straight up, giving the last man precious seconds to drag the man the few inches needed to free his diaphragm; at the same time, we heard the emergency vehicles coming at top speed. One of the men began CPR on the victim, then the EMT’s arrived, grabbed oxygen and took over.

How could a few men lift a powerful vehicle? Adrenalin, you say. Probably. God? Certainly, and really, the times you’ve read of similar circumstances you can explain it however you wish, but the truth is, there is no proof except to say that when a person is in emergency mode, amazing things can happen. By the way, we visited him in the hospital. He and his girlfriend lived in our countryside, had picked up a pizza, and were heading home. They had an argument that got very heated, and she–in ignorance–jerked the emergency brake lever to full mode. And yes, the EMT’s were able to get his heart beating again. We visited him a couple of weeks later at his house, and found he had been without oxygen long enough that it had affected his brain. He was having to begin learning the basics again: how to eat, talk, walk, and live. The girlfriend disappeared from the scene (she may have been charged but we never knew), but she could not handle seeing the evidence of what her temper had caused. Could she be forgiven for what she had done? Oh, yes. But did that change his circumstances. Not at all. The two do not go hand in hand. If you murder someone, can forgiveness from God be sought and obtained? Definitely, if you are repentant, and His child. Will the dead come back to life? No. Consequences are a memory the brain tries to deal with the rest of our lives.

The presence of power was manifest in Samson most of his life. If you were raised in Sunday School, you remember the stories of David & Goliath, Noah and the ark, Samson tearing the lion apart, Jonah and the whale, and more. Stories where amazing power was displayed. Noah illustrates that not all power is muscular, however. He exercised tremendous control as he built a boat while he listened to the jeers, vicious insults, and public humiliation from those who probably called him every name known at that time as an insult. Yet he persevered–his power was self-control. Power can take so many forms: not speaking out when someone is wrong and you know the truth. My grandmother was that type of woman. She. would. not. argue. How many people do you know who will not correct someone if their information is wrong? Not many, I’m certain. The only time it’s acceptable is a situation where the end result might have real consequences. Recently my daughter made a statement that was incorrect. Someone with her later told me, “I could have corrected her, but why? It wasn’t hurting anything to let her think what she did” (the make of a car, I think it was!) “so I let it roll off my back, rather than arguing.” That person deserved much praise for self control in realizing how foolish it is to show her up! The Bible says, “all contention stems from pride.” Wanting to always show how smart you are and being right is pride. Wow. God hates that.

There are tons of examples of power. Samson, the focus of the sermon this past Sunday at Thomas Road, was meant to deliver Israel from enslavement to her enemies, but his life was lived for worldly pleasures. (When you have time, read Judges 13:1-16:31). He did not seem to learn from his mistakes, but instead, went from one bad choice to another to another. Yet in the end, as immoral as he had lived most of his life, he cried out to God and God heard him, answered, and delivered Israel through his death. He was a powerful man in muscles, but not in self-control. How sad. Power can be knowing you could make so much more money for your company if you ____ (fill in the blank.) But… doing so would be a reproach to your testimony that you are a Christ-follower. You don’t do it. That is the power of discipline. And on and on.

If you recognized the illustration of the wreck, I used it one other time, a long time ago (in dog years), but it serves such a purpose in focusing our minds on the aptitude we have to use our self-discipline (power) or self-control (power) wisely or foolishly–as the young woman did in jerking the brake and taking the boyfriend’s quality of life. Take a few minutes to click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and select the sermon for Sunday July 16, on Flannelgraph of Faith: Samson. You’ll learn much from his life that can be applied to your own, and hopefully you will see that real power, that which comes to you from God, is to be used to live a godly life! Get a drink, your notebook, and settle back for a time of digging into God’s word! Search the sermon study below, answering the questions in order to fully understand what God has in store for you.

Flannelgraph of Faith: Samson                                                                                                Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

It is not unusual for expectant parents to desire a goal for the baby’s future (for instance, perhaps becoming part of the family law firm, or perhaps a pastor). Do you know someone who is an example of such a life, and what has been the outcome? Write your answer down if you’re by yourself, or discuss this if you’re with friends.

As we continue looking at Bible characters whose lives have much to teach us, we come to the powerfully strong Israelite, Samson. Using the old-school visual teaching of the flannelgraph, this colorful, yet wayward, man had a future ordered by God. As the last in the line of judges of Israel, he lived a life that will encourage many who have wondered if God gives second chances.

Focal Passages: Taken from Judges 13:1 through 16:31

Think About or Discuss:

God’s Promises Are Filled with Power

  1. Read Judges 13:1. What was the condition of the people of Israel after the judge before Samson had died? How long were they in captivity this time?
  2. Each time Israel found themselves enslaved by other nations, what did they eventually do? How is that like our own actions?
  3. In verses 2, 3 & 5, how did God act in grace toward His people? What was the promise and purpose for Samson that God gave his mother?

God’s Promises Can Be Derailed by Our Actions:

  1. Can anyone paraphrase the next years of Samson’s life? If not, and you have a few minutes, read the three chapters of Samson’s life. You will be amazed at some of his actions! What was his greatest hindrance to God’s perfect plan for him? Read 1 John 2:16. Does this sum up his actions?
  2. Read Jeremiah 29:11. What would you do differently if you had known from a child that God’s had a specific plan for your life, that would give you “hope, and a future”?
  3. What are some examples of God’s ideal plan for you, and how can you wreck what He wants to accomplish? (For example, marriage is His perfect plan, unfaithfulness and divorce can thwart it.)
  4. When you ruin the plan God had for you, what does He do? Read Romans 8:28,29. After receiving forgiveness (1 John 1:9), how does this change the consequences?

God’s Promises Are Forever Promises:

  1. Read 16:28-30. Samson knew how badly he had hindered God’s plans for his life, and begged God for one more chance. What did God do?
  2. What lesson can you learn from the continual backsliding that Samson did, and yet, when he cried out to God, God helped him?

Close:

It is hard to read these chapters in Judges on the life of Samson, and not have questions and concerns about the immoral way in which he lived his life, yet was used mightily by God. Being brought up to be Israel’s deliverer from the Philistines, as an adult he went from one sinful situation to another. Yet somehow, in the timing of all the years that he judged Israel, he apparently had a faith so profound that he is listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11:32.

We can learn much from Samson’s life. God promised that he would be used for a specific plan and purpose, and nothing could take that away. He promised it to Samson’s mother, and it was not conditional on Samson never straying from the path of righteousness. We also were created by God for something above and beyond all we can ask or think, but we must live lives of faithfulness to see that purpose fulfilled. We also can take comfort in knowing that the backslider can return to the God he left for the world, and will find Him waiting with arms open wide. That is a blessed reassurance. The cry of our heart should always be that the Lord would make Himself so real to us that we recognize answers to our heart’s requests as quickly as they come. Nothing fills you with the security of being loved, as seeing Him fulfilling promises to give you a life full of His unmerited favor.

Memory Verse: Judges 6:16: Then Samson called to the Lord, saying, “O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” (NKJV

 

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He Didn’t Intend to Die That Day..

Two caskets. One, a close friend, the other a brother-in-law. Their stories were so different, their lives both lived in opposite directions.  The deaths  hit us hard. Not because we’re immune to the real life situations that pass us by, but because the deaths were too soon–both of these men still had time to live. (From a human perspective). One had surgery, didn’t heal properly, got pneumonia, and one catastrophe after another occurred, and he closed his eyes in death. The other had surgery, went to a rehab facility, caught a respiratory infection which didn’t heal, and eventually was sustained by life-support. He chose to be taken off, and two minutes later was in the presence of the Lord whom he loved.

We juggled schedules in order to pay our last respects to both of these men whom we had loved. And at each casket the only question we cared about was their relationship to the One who had died in order that they could live eternally with Him. Because, in the end, that’s all that really matters. The one didn’t go to heaven because he was a good citizen, had raised children who are an asset to their communities, and had served faithfully those who needed him. He went because years ago he had heard the message of salvation, knew he was a sinner who had a debt of sin that nothing could remove except the blood of Jesus–and accepted that as Truth. The other had led a life of sin for many, many years, and would have faced an eternity in hell, but he saw in the lives of those with whom he lived a peace, and he wanted that same peace for himself. He went to church, heard the gospel message preached, and gave his life to Christ. They both got it.

Whether you believe in heaven or hell, Jesus as the Son of God, Jesus as the only way to heaven, doesn’t change the truth one bit. All that matters is that it is Truth, and your believing or not believing it doesn’t change the fact that it is. What it will change is where you spend your time when you close your eyes in death. If you’re reading this, you still have time to know that you know–or choose not to. Jesus won’t force you to accept His free gift, but it’s yours for the taking if you do.

How about a great sermon on who is YOUR Jesus? Get your notebook, a good chair, some cool or hot drink, and sit back, ready to listen to the sermon for yesterday, April 30, 2017, preached by Jonathan Falwell at Thomas Road Baptist Church. Click on http://www.trbc.org/sermon-archive and select the current sermon. Join in the singing as it lifts up the name of the Lord! After the service is over, scroll down to the study notes and see how much you absorbed, and check the sermon against your own belief in Jesus! Do you have a Biblical view of His Deity, or have you let unsound doctrine get you confused? Don’t let an unplanned death keep you out of heaven–Jesus has rooms prepared just for you!

Not My Jesus: The World’s View of Jesus                                                                                                                      Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

Can you think of a time you became involved in something because you didn’t have all the true facts about the situation? Write your experience in your notebook, or if you’re with a group of friends, would you share?

Today the world has a very confused idea of who Jesus Christ really is, and why He lived. We must be careful in conversation that we are not agreeing with a statement someone is making about Him until we know that their idea of Jesus is in line with the word of God. As we saw last week, no serious historian denies that Jesus actually lived, but few believe Him to be the Son of God. This week we continue the new series in which we determine that our view of Jesus not only must be true, we must know why it’s true.

Focal Passages: Matthew 16:1-17.

Think About or Discuss:

The World is always looking for a sign

  1. Read Matt. 16:1-4. Had these scribes and Pharisees been following Jesus as He had been performing miracles? If so, what was the real reason for their statement in verse 1?
  2. What did Jesus say would be the evidence of His claim that He was the Messiah? If they had really wanted to believe, what would they have done?
  3. How is that like people today who beg God for a miracle (for the life, health, etc. of someone perhaps), saying they will then “believe”? Can you discuss what comes to mind?

There are signs from above and signs from below

  1. In verses 5-12, what were the disciples missing? What had they seen—probably nearly every day—while they had been with Jesus?
  2. Jesus still needed to warn them to be careful not to believe false doctrine. Why was it necessary for Him to counsel them to not to be swayed by error?
  3. Taking the world religions individually, why did the Jews not accept Jesus as the Messiah the prophets had written of? Islam denies Jesus’ deity; whose word are they ignoring? They deny the crucifixion: last week, how many witnesses saw Jesus alive after the crucifixion? Hinduism embraces thousands of gods; can you think of Jesus’ own words that would refute this doctrine? Buddhism also denies He is the Son of God. Atheists For Christ, like Islam, deny the crucifixion. How then, do they think they can be saved? (If you need to, look at the end!)
  4. Why do we need to be so diligent to teach the next generation there is only One Way? Do you know what the public school system is teaching the children?

The greatest revelation of who Jesus Is? Himself!

  1. In verses 13-17, what had Jesus asked His disciples? Who revealed this to Peter?
  2. If you were asked by anyone who He is, what would you say? What evidence do you have? (Hopefully, a changed life!)

Close:

Because the world does not have a correct view of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Scripture, it has gone crazy making up its own rules concerning sinful lifestyles. It has become vital that we know without error the Biblical guidelines God has set. Jesus knew the disciples were going to face “wolves” among the believers, and warned them in our focal passage to guard against accepting people or beliefs at face value. Now, two thousand years later, we are in an even more dangerous position, as we see our values taken away. We are not allowed to have an opinion that goes against society, and are  in danger of “hate crimes” if we label Biblical sin as sin. Paul warned believers in Eph. 4:14 to not be carried away by every “wind of doctrine,” and in both letters to Timothy, as well as Titus, he warns us to hold fast to sound doctrine—that men, in fact, will come to hate it. We see this today all around the world. Doctrine—a scary word to many—is simply the set of principles God has established as guidelines so that His people may strive to live holy, sanctified lives. Paul writes in 1 Thess.  4:3, “For this is the will of God for you, your sanctification!”  Let us go forward toward that goal, reaching out in love to the many who have an inaccurate view of Him!

Jews: They expected someone who would rise as a military leader. Islam: Jesus Himself stated He and the Father are One (John 10:30); also, John 1:1-5; and denying the resurrection, they ignore the 515+ people who saw Jesus alive. Hinduism: Jesus stated, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man comes to the Father except by Me” (John 14:6).  Atheists for Christ also ignore the witnesses who saw Jesus after the resurrection; they believe their good works will get them to heaven.

 

 

HEARING THE TRUTH–then what?

It was getting late, and cars on the Interstate were beginning to turn on their lights. No one would be able to see the guy pretty soon–he was dressed in dark clothing made to keep warm, having expected to get a ride before now! Still, he figured he could change to a white tee shirt pulled over his jacket if no one picked him up soon.

Hours wore on. This was a little more than a week ago, and nights near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia were still dipping into the low 40’s or upper 30’s. He was so cold! Car after car passed, but no one seemed to see him. It was time for that white shirt. Pulling it out of his backpack–which was a chore with all his personal belongings packed on his back–he finally got it out and pulled over his clothes, hoping it would reflect in someone’s headlights, and they might pull over. Zip… zip…. they flew by.

He walked backwards, slightly wary that the ground on the shoulder would throw a curve ball in the form of a hole or large stone. He was getting so tired, so cold, and so hungry, but knew he had to walk to keep his blood flowing as the temperature dropped.

Several hours later he came to an exit that looked promising. There seemed to be all types of fast food places, gas stations, and general humanity. Perhaps there would be somewhere he could take a quick nap before trying to get on over toward the southwest section of Virginia, where there was transportation west.

Light was breaking. He slowed his pace, and walked, not quite sure of the itinerary in this area where there were so many roads going different directions. For a few minutes he got tangled up in his directions, and veered slightly south, when he should have gone west. A sidewalk made walking easier, and he passed down the building in front of some type of church. He kept his eyes ahead, trying to focus on the next step.

The pastor and some staff were inside during these early morning hours, getting coffee started, bulletins stuffed, and the inside of the building ready for the morning’s first service; two more would follow. As the pastor was setting the coffee maker to “brew,” he saw–out of the corner of his eye–a man walk by. The guy was carrying a large cluster of items with his backpack on his back, and looked unkempt as if he’d been traveling for awhile. For a split second the pastor thought, “I have so much to do, I’ll just keep on with my routine.” In the next split second he bolted for the door, knowing his “mission” was to share Christ. “Good morning!” he called. The man turned, saw the friendly face of the man, and responded. “How about a cup of hot coffee on this cold morning? Maybe some doughnuts?” The man’s mouth watered. It sounded soooo good! “I’d love that,” he replied. He entered the foyer, and as the coffee wasn’t quite ready asked if he could use the bathroom. “Certainly! And there’s hot water in there, and soap–use whatever you need!” The pastor was a man–he knew the man probably needed many things at the moment.

Later, as they talked about the service, the man offered to help the ones stuffing the bulletins to help pay for his use of their facilities and generous handouts. There was much camaraderie going on between the workers; they invited him to stay for the worship service. He placed his pack where it would be safe, and settled in, letting his bones soak in the relaxation that a comfortable seat afforded. And then, feeling slightly out of place, he began to hear the service. The praise team sang their songs, and the pastor began his message. With the man in mind, he clearly presented the gospel of Jesus Christ coming to this earth to redeem fallen man, being crucified, resurrected, and living again to provide salvation to anyone who asks in faith.

He wasn’t able to see the man before the next service was rolling. Another busy Sunday, come and gone. But he couldn’t get the man off his mind.

Later he asked the ones who had worked with him if they had found out anything about the man. “He was on his way to southwest Virginia, then getting a ride out to the Midwest,” they replied. But they had found out nothing.

Monday came. A typical Monday, busy and full of jobs that had to be done. Later in the day one of the ladies of the church came by. Everyone greeted her. “I had the most interesting day yesterday!” she exclaimed. “In the afternoon, I saw someone walking, and I had seen him come out of the church. Later, I saw him hitchhiking and felt comfortable–since he had been in church–in offering him a ride. Actually, I took him all the way to where he needed to go!” She had gotten some personal information, and now the church could continue to be in touch with him.

After all, God had sent him there to hear the good news that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died just for him. Seeds have been planted, and now someone else needs to water!

Yesterday at Thomas Road Baptist Church, the congregation heard of another person who had not only heard about Jesus, but heard from Jesus’ own lips that He is the Son of God.  As soon as the man heard, he could have made a choice to go into another room, where they could talk, and he could hear Jesus tell His story But his choice wasn’t based on searching for the truth, it was on the sickening thought of losing the position he held that brought him power, prestige, money, and much more. He made his decision.
Now is a great time to get your notebook, something to drink, a comfortable chair, and turn to http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, and select the sermon for Sunday, April 2,  called “Outsiders: One for All.” Click on it, and worship with the praise team if you have time. It’s always great to have a friend with you, and you can watch the sermon and then do the sermon study below–looking into the deep parts of the Scripture to learn what happened next! So grab you stuff, click and enjoy!

Outsiders: One for All

Jonathan Falwell

Open:

Going into “survival mode” in order to keep a job, one’s family, or even one’s position of influence or way of life can result in actions that are sometimes ruthless, illegal or wrong! Can you think of an example (it can even be from the Scripture)?

This week we look at the second of four characters who were affected by the crucifixion, and their reaction to the life of Jesus. Caiaphas, the high priest, was so fearful at his possible loss of position that he plotted the murder of Jesus, finding people willing to lie under oath.  If you’re by yourself, jot your ideas down in a notebook.

Focal Passage: John 11:45-57. Further Passages: Matt. 26:57-68; John 2:19-22.

Think About or Discuss:

The world is always looking for another way

  1. Read Matt. 26:59. How far were the Jewish religious leaders willing to go to bring about the death of Jesus? What was more important to Caiaphas, learning the truth about Jesus or stopping Him before he lost the power of his position as High Priest?
  2. Read John 11:48. What were the religious leaders afraid of? How is that like today, when people we know, or work with, tell false accusations against you or someone you know, to keep or advance in their situation? What is the difference—or is there any?

Jesus claimed to be able to do what no one could imagine

  1. Read verse 60b, 61. What was Jesus referring to? (John 2:19-22)
  2. Read Isa. 29:13. How does this verse illustrate the blindness of the religious leaders?

Sometimes in the most difficult moments of life, He remains silent

  1. Read verses 62-64. What did Jesus tell Caiaphas? Was he now at a crossroads, able to choose to believe Jesus, or annihilate Him to retain his own position? Would he be responsible on Judgment Day for his choice?
  2. Can you share a time when you thought Jesus was being silent, when He was actually working on your behalf?
  3. Jesus was not powerless while silent! Why is He willing to test your faith when He knows His timing is perfect? Read James 1:3,4. How does He want us to react?

Jesus’ plan was the one so desperately needed

  1. Read verses 49,50. What was significant about Caiaphas’ statement?
  2. What did it provide?
  3. Read Romans 5:15, 18. What did the death of this One Man accomplish?

Would you be willing to be “all in” for Christ?

Close:

We can probably not comprehend the group of religious leaders gathered to take down the Creator of the universe. Caiaphas is a great example of God using many different types of people for His work (as He did with Pharaoh.) Don’t ever assume because someone is using “religion” as their trade, that they are in a close relationship with Jesus Christ! And we all have heard the story of the crucifixion so many times that we must concentrate as we read, begging God to give us a fresh perspective. Caiaphas had been ruling as High Priest for about 17 years (it is ironic that he lost his position soon thereafter), and enjoyed power and prestige; now it was threatened because of the popularity of One Man, and the entire group was afraid of losing control. Is that why we falter in our faith? Have you considered something so insignificant as “worry” being because you lack control of a situation? Taking Jesus at His word, having faith that His silence is working to bring about His timing for your good, is critical in your walk with Him, and your growing in faith. Let the evidence of His own testimony (“I am He” John 4:26, “It is as you said” Matt. 26:64) cause you to examine the depth of your trust in His perfect work on the cross, and His perfect timing for your plans. You will not regret it when you get through the trial!

Memory Verse: John 11:50: “…nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish?”

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Did You Find the Rose Garden?

Once upon a time… someone was promised a garden of roses.

We thought that was how it worked, didn’t we? Raised on Fairy Tales that all ended “happily ever after,” it seemed life–once we were grown–was going to be full of love, joy and roses. Shall I break it to you? It doesn’t happen that way very often.

We prepared for marriage, and hoped to get someone who would always love us unconditionally; we prepared for jobs, and were so fortunate if we got one that paid well. There were some where we had to follow orders simply because we were employed–orders that we sometimes questioned, or felt uncomfortable with.

One, I recall, was a huge, financially sound corporation. A directive came down the line from the people who sat in the plush offices several states away, who had little “hands on” experience to know how their decisions would impact those very people who made them profitable. This was one of the largest banking firms in the nation. A meeting was called, and the employees, all titled, sat at the conference center desk as the President laid out new rules: there would no longer be renewals on loans that were on the books, unless the customer had the cash to back up the loan. We’re not talking about small credit card debt, but commercial loans that might range up to a few million.

As the customers came in when their loan was up for renewal, and found it wasn’t going to be automatically turned over, they were floored. “I’ve never missed a payment, have impeccable credit, and a value of twice what I owe! How can you do this?!” These were real people, people we knew people well, and as we looked into their faces, we knew how incredibly hard it was going to be for them to keep bankruptcy at bay, just because corporate had made a decision, and now it was going to be mandated. So many went under. Our souls were full of guilt: should we fight or flee? How badly did we need the job?

Have you found the working world–or even school–full of favoritism, double standards and politics? Perhaps discrimination when one student, team, employee or person is favored above everyone else for no reason you’re aware of? That’s life today, isn’t it? At least we tell ourselves it is.

That was life thousands of years ago, as well! “There is nothing new under the sun,” Solomon wrote, and while he may have not meant technological advances, the incredible strides made with each generation still blow you away! Kitchen strainers and tableware artifacts have been found that are thousands of years old–and look like they are yesterday’s items.

The sermon yesterday at Thomas Road Baptist Church picks up on an employee–a soldier actually–who was ordered to do his job, and went out to do it. He had no choice, or probably his own life would have been in danger. This amazing story leaves you wondering what happened at the end, how did it turn out, was there a sequel?! Nowadays we would expect a trilogy, or even more. Click on http://www.trbc.org/sermons and then click on “Outsiders: Jesus at the Center,” preached by Charles Billingsley on March 26, 2017. You’ll be enthralled every moment as Charles brings one of the characters to life, fleshes him out, and gives you a beautiful picture of the love of Jesus Christ for each of us. Get your notebook to jot answers to the study below, a drink, a comfy chair, and if you have a friend to share the time with you, worship and study together. It will be a meaningful time of fellowship and feasting on the Bread of Life. Most of all, remember to praise God for the wealth of great teaching that we have available, and the possibility of changing someone’s life for eternity!

Outsiders: Jesus at the Center                                                                                                                                                                                                      Charles Billingsley

Open:

Sometimes we can attend a function, meeting, or study that is really important, but sit there feeling very disconnected from the group for any of a number of reasons. Can you think of an example? Jot your answers down if you’re alone, so you can keep a record of your thoughts.

This week we begin a new series, looking for four weeks at people who were part of the crucifixion of Jesus, but did not recognize His deity, and yet were touched by His grace. Whether their heart was changed, we will not know until eternity. Is it possible we—or someone we know—could hear the story of Christ week after week, be touched by His power, but never open our hearts to Him? Let’s look at the story.

Focal Passage: John 18:1-11 Further Passages: John 10:17-18, Luke 22:49-51, 52,53; Matt. 26:53,54; Rom. 8:38, 39.

Think About or Discuss:

The Power of Jesus is Undeniable

  1. Read John 1:3 and Rom. 1:20. What is said of Jesus in these passages? In Romans, what gives evidence there is a Creator? How would you describe His power?
  2. Read John 18:1-7. When Jesus answered “I AM HE,” what was the significance of the words? We think of people falling backwards; what if the soldiers fell forward, or their legs gave out: what would be their posture? What Scripture would have been fulfilled in the lives of those men? (Rom. 14:11)

The Love of Jesus is Unconditional

  1. Read verses 8-9. Who was Jesus concerned for as the guards came to arrest Him?
  2. Read Col. 2:13,14. What kind of love would cause someone to die for persons so vile as to be “dead” in their sins?
  3. Read Rom. 8:38, 39. How would you describe unconditional love? Do you struggle with loving like that?

The Grace of Jesus is Indescribable

  1. Read verse 10. What was significant about Malchus’ position in Jewish hierarchy? What was Peter’s intent (probably)?
  2. Read verse 11. Who can tell what happened next (from Luke 22:51)? Why was Malchus not “deserving” of the grace of Jesus?
  3. Think: Does anyone owe you something—perhaps money? Does it bother you? How does that compare with the grace you received from God?

Close:

There are not enough words for us to describe the power of God, with our finite minds and vocabulary. How can we comprehend a universe where the stars alone exceed a number over 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000—and He knows them all by name? Such power is indescribable. The creation (Rom. 1:20) alone testifies to all men that there is a Creator, so no one who will stand before God has an excuse. When Jesus answered, “I am He,” He was using the words God used for His Name: the great I AM. It’s scary to think that perhaps we’ve become so used to going to church, talking about the Lord, singing, praying and even praising Him, that we have lost the awe and reverence of His power! Perhaps He is no longer  held in such high esteem that we, like Isaiah, would cry out, “Woe is me!” To be the recipient of the kind of love available to men by calling on His name is unfathomable. To have Him remove your vilest sins, casting them as far as the east is from the west, is incomprehensible, and yet we get upset or turn away when He does not answer our prayers, or give us what we want. Our knowledge is a drop in a bucket and His is as limitless as possible, and yet we often treat Him like a servant, or a genie in a lamp. We all need to fall to our knees and cry “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty!” Won’t you take the message of salvation you’ve been given and tell those whose hearts need to be changed by His love that it is available to them? It matters so much!

Memory Verse: John 3:17: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Thoughts to Take Away:

  • (Verse 3): The soldiers came with “lanterns and torches” against the Light of the World;
  • They came with weapons against the Prince of Peace;
  • (Verses 4-8): Jesus was in Total Control: He knew all things; He went forward; He took the initiative; His words took them to the ground in response to His majesty; He told them what to do;
  • Nothing can stop the will of God;
  • We are protected by His love; we are perfected by His love;
  • As trials come, will we flee or fight?

Quote: “For evil to flourish, it requires only for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke.

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JUST TELL THE STORY!

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The mess hall was a chaos of sweaty, smelly bodies, most having just ridden for hours in the field, in ninety-degree heat. Riding on the hard seats in trucks or Humvees is not conducive to jovial attitudes, and the chow hall didn’t serve most men’s idea of a great lunch. Still, appetites were ready to eat, since almost everyone had been awakened at 4:30 a.m., and breakfast had seemed an eternity ago. The guys kept telling themselves OCS was worth this.

The men, caps off their heads, headed for the nearest tables for the soldiers. The tables with the officers were nearby. There were few standing rules, but one reminded the guys of their moms: eat everything on your plate.

This particular day, Candidate Day was feeling “ornery.” A good synonym is feeling like making trouble. Not a great thing to do in the military. As he ate, he looked at the spinach provided (why had he put that on his plate, he asked himself), knowing he had to gag it down, although he hated it. He held his nose so the taste would be minimal, and swallowed the lump in two huge bites. Then, taking his napkin, he wadded it up into a small mound, placing it over the area where the spinach had been. He made sure the napkin had a small point in the center. Yes, it was all very well planned. Yes, he knew he was about to get in trouble. Yes, he weighed the cost. And decided it would be worth it.

In a few minutes his lunch was eaten, his tray ready to be carried out. As he passed the table where the officers sat, one cut his eyes sharply to the tray Day carried and barked, “DAY!” Candidate Day stopped and faced the officer. “Sir, Yessir!” he answered, eyes straight ahead, head erect. “Raise the napkin!” the office yelled. “Sir, yessir!” Day replied, and proceeded to lift the napkin. Noting the absence of food underneath the napkin, the officer turned beet red as anger and embarrassment shook him, especially in front of the other officers. “DAY! You did that on purpose, didn’t you?!” Day replied, “Sir, yessir!” Eyes straight, head erect.

“Outside!! Give me 25 push ups!” the officer yelled. Candidate Day was a good soldier: “Sir, yessir!” he replied, and went out to do his push-ups. To this day, many decades later, he still gets an unholy pleasure out of telling the story, complete with his punishment.

We all have favorite stories that have been handed down through the generations of our families, don’t we? Some have been embellished, some are straight truth (like the one above!). We love stories from the time Mom or Grandma opens bedtime with “Once upon a time,” and never grow tired of them.

We’re beginning a new series at Thomas Road, only three weeks long, but the truth is, we all have a story to tell. Click on http://www.trbc.org/sermon and select the Storytellers, from March 5, 2017. Listen as Jonathan Falwell brings to life the healing of the blind man, and see him in your imagination as he–who was blind from birth–received his sight. Can you even begin to experience the wonder as he looked at clouds, grass, trees, people??? What an amazing story! Grab your notebook for thoughts, a good drink, and friends if you’d like to share the study below. Listen to the service and then dig deep to get to the points in the sermon, finding out that you, too, have a story to share!

Storytellers: The Story of Sight                                                                                            March 5, 2017

Jonathan Falwell

Open:

Nearly everyone has a favorite story that they love to share, whether it’s for encouragement, humor or pure enjoyment. Can you think of a much-loved story? Jot it in your notebook if you are not in a group.

For three weeks, we are going to look at some of the true stories that were written about Jesus’ ministry, trying to identify the characteristics of the storyteller, and decide what points he was trying to make as he re-told the events. This week we will look at the story of Jesus as He restores sight to a man blind from birth.

Focal Passage: John 9:1-2

Think About or Discuss:

The Beginning of a Story

  1. Read John 9:1-3. What were some of the main points about the man who had been born blind? Write down all you can think of.
  2. Did the man need faith to obey the instructions of Jesus? Why or why not? (For a parallel passage to study, take a few moments to read 2 Kings 5:9-12, and see the opposite reaction of someone who wanted to be healedI.)

The Power of a Story

  1. Read verses 6-9. What were some of the reasons this man felt an urgency to assure people that he was the one who had been healed?
  2. If this had been you, what would have been your reaction or feelings?

The Faith of a Storyteller

  1. Read verses 10-11. Why was he able to be convincing as he told of the experience with Jesus?
  2. Which was his greater determination, to give Jesus the credit for healing him, or be afraid of what the Jewish leaders would do to him? Why?

The Courage of a Storyteller

  1. Read verses 15, 25-26. Can you understand his frustration when the Jews kept interrogating him with the same questions over and over? Why?
  2. Read verses 18-20. What had his parents done? Why had they lacked courage?

The Importance of a Storyteller

  1. Read verse 4. What did Jesus say your important job is? Why? What is your story? Are you excited to tell it—as the blind man—or are you fearful of repercussions fom external sources, as his parents were?       

ACTION  APPLICATIONS:

  1. Decide if you have a story. If you have been granted the gift of salvation, you have something to tell the world;
  2. Be committed to sharing your story at each and every opportunity;
  3. Pray each day that God would bring someone to you who needs to hear your story;
  4. Share your story even though you may experience sarcasm, doubt or skepticism!

Close:

We all have a favorite part of some movie—a line or two that perhaps defines the entire storyline for us. In “Up Close and Personal,” a mentored journalist eventually eclipses her teacher, ending with a final scene where she accepts an award with words dedicated to his memory: “He told me to ‘just tell the story.’” Whenever life throws a curve ball, those words come to mind: just tell the story. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that if “any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold all things become new.” A new life, a new creation, old things passed away—what more could a good story have as a plot? If you have been saved, you have the story inside you, waiting for every opportunity to share it with someone who needs it. Pray this week that God would guide you to that person!

Memory Verse: John 9:39: For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”

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!

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