FEAR: WILL IT RULE YOU?

I stared at the envelope, noting the Green Bay, WI postmark. There was no return address, and it was childishly printed with my name and address. Not that those facts are significant, but they made the letter an “unknown.” I instantly thought of my mom, who would get a letter or card and study it, trying to discern from the outside who it was from. It drove me crazy!! I was always saying, “Mother! Just open it and find out!” I have discovered that we become like our parents as we age, in spite of hoping (as we grow up) that all of their habits will somehow skip us. Alas, they usually don’t.

When I opened the long letter, I found, to my surprise, that what began like a friendly epistle pertaining to the blog, was actually one of the most brutal verbal attacks I could imagine. As I read it, I realized that–as Paul wrote in Ephesians 6–we are not wrestling with people, but with demons (powers and principalities). Indeed, Hannah, the writer, was a willing tool being used for destruction. Had she lambasted me with antagonism regarding my God, or my belief in Jesus Christ, I could have had scripture after scripture (“there is not one person on the face of the earth who is not able to tell, just by observing the universe, that God exists,” Romans 1:21, loose paraphrase, but it makes the point), and hundreds more. But she, supposedly representing an assembly of almost 100 members in a writers group (many PUBLISHED..her emphasis), tore the blog apart, item after item, every piece of punctuation, jot after tittle. She left nothing out, and emphasized that she had enough material to write an “autobiography.” (One of the first rules I learned at the writer’s conference was ‘write what you know,’ so I do!) She finished as she “encouraged” me not to stop writing–it provides too much valuable experience for the group of writers to use as their weekly exercise so they could get more insight in how (not) to write. She even was able to take an old picture of me and pass copies around to the group (can you imagine the amount of colored ink?), letting them furnish cartoon lines, and it was all done as if with a spirit of fun. She knew her knives were going deep, and hastened to tell me that her writing group would have a super time with all further blogs (and sermon studies).

Did she hit the mark? Oh, you bet. What was worse, she calmly told me that the Writer’s group had been introduced to the blog by a graduate of my local university (not hard to figure out if you know Lynchburg, VA), who had moved to Wisconsin and joined the group, bringing the blog along to the group meeting. I’m not sure of his intentions, but I could not help but think of David’s words in Psalm 41, “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”

When Jonathan (Falwell) preached this past Sunday on defeating fear, I sensed God wanted me to intently listen. Hannah had 1) achieved her purpose: I haven’t written the blog for two weeks, feeling it was worthless except to be used as a laughing joke and learning exercise; and 2) even worse for her, she had totally missed the message of the Cross while being so intent on destroying the writer. As the pastor spoke, I searched my heart diligently: was I not writing the past two weeks because she was making a big joke out of me, and because I was now living fearfully that she will write again more viciously (don’t, Hannah, it will just go in the trash), or was it much bigger? Yes, it was much bigger, for I was definitely letting Satan via his demonic activity close down the only way I personally have to impact anyone with the Gospel. It is always my hope each week that, as the sermons from Thomas Road go out with a study attached, some–or maybe only one–individuals will dig deep into God’s word. I had my answer: I had let fear rule me. (And my apologies to all the wonderful people who teach the seminars at the  Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conferences in NC each year, for any writing errors! They have helped me so beautifully as I seek to minister to the ones who have “ears to hear”!)

So, in keeping with the spirit of the powerful sermon preached on “Defeating Fear,” I offer this sermon study, hoping someone will benefit, perhaps watch the service, and learn to love and obey the word of God. Just click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, and select the sermon “Flannelgraph of Faith: Gideon” from this past Sunday. Above all, erase from your memory any lack of professionalism with which I write this blog, as the entire reason is to point someone, including Hannah and her 100 writing partners, to the Lord. It is by His grace alone that one can become saved, not through any of our own achievements. And fortunately, He uses the weak, the foolish and the unlearned of this world to teach the proud. Sit back, get a drink of your favorite beverage, and enjoy the service. Take time to check out the questions, and may you have a blessed week!

Flannelgraph of Faith: Gideon

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

Fear can be a mild stress that causes us worry, or a paralyzing dread that almost immobilizes us, often because we have no control over a situation. Can you think of an example? If you are alone, write your answers in a notebook.

Today we are beginning a new series based on the visual teaching from decades ago: the flannelgraph. Although we will use it along with today’s technology, we want to reframe the stories learned from childhood of the heroes of faith, and see how their lives give us lessons to apply to our walk of faith today.

Focal Passages: Taken from Judges 6:1-40, 7:1-25, 8:1-35. When you get time, read all the story of Gideon—it will help you understand what he went through.

Thing About or Discuss:

The Background:

  1. Read Judges 6:1,2. Why did God have to chastise the Israelites, who had been in the Promised Land about forty years? What did they do in verse 2?
  2. When things became even worse, what were their actions (vs 6)? How is that exactly like people today (9/11 is a great example!)?

God’s Solution:

  1. In verses 7-10, God tells Israel why He was upset with them, but in His grace, He promises a deliverer. Read verses 14-17, as the Lord calls Gideon. Who does Gideon remind you of, as he tries to get out of the job of delivering Israel (Exodus 3:9-14, 4:1-14 when you have time)?
  2. How is that like our lack of faith when God calls us to move out of our comfort zone?

God’s Victory:

  1. By the end of chapter 6, how many men did Gideon have, to fight against the Midianites? In 7:1-7, what conversation does Gideon have with God?
  2. How many men did Gideon end up with? Why did God choose those who brought the water to their mouth to drink, to be those who would go with Gideon?

Gideon’s Final Years

  1. Read Judges 8:22-27. Why is it so unbelievable that Gideon “became a snare” to Israel, after all that the Lord had done for him?
  2. Asking ourselves the same question, how many times has God done something miraculous for you, only for you to leave Him for a season?

What Are Some Applications?

  • Defeating fear requires faith
  • Defeating fear requires Focus
  • Defeating fear requires Fidelity

Close:

Israel had turned away from the God who had delivered them from Egypt about eighty years prior. They had begun to worship the foreign gods and live as the heathen nations around them. God had to punish them for their sinful ways, giving them as slaves to the Midianites until they were ready to turn back to Him.

Gideon, a real person in a real-life situation, teaches us that men’s hearts, no matter the lifestyle or when they live, never change. When God chose Gideon to deliver Israel, Gideon begged for a sign that he was doing what God wanted. Today, we also might desire a tangible indication we are in His will, but it is our step of faith that God is looking for. We must discipline ourselves to be in His word so much that it becomes part of who we are, and we should always be listening for Him to speak through the verses.

After Gideon’s miraculous experience with the Midianites, we would assume his time of judging Israel was done with a focus of bringing the nation back to the One true God. But Gideon, in a strange move, took his eyes off God and repeated Aaron’s offense by making a golden object of worship. Letting our attention become misplaced onto things of the world is a sure way to get away from God. Israel went through generation after generation of faithfulness, then backsliding—doing evil, being chastised, and back to fidelity. How much God desires that we remain faithful, trusting Him no matter what comes our way! He is not our God only when things are going well: we must have such trust that the greatest hurts we bear are carried, knowing He is working in our lives.

What are your “Midianites,” and are you trusting the Lord to help you defeat them?

Memory Verse: Judges 6:16: And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.” (NKJV)

 

 

What Does Loving Others Look Like?

Like two fish walking along the beach beside the water, my daughter and I walked through the floral and plant aisles in the Lawn & Garden section of our local hardware store. We could not have been more out of our element if we had been getting ready to skydive. I have a very active DNA with cells that contain negative effects on growing flowers, and she states she has inherited the same genetic make up. The plants we were seeing were gorgeous! Bright reds, yellows, and oranges in celosias, climbing roses, daisies, and everything in between. The colors took your breath away. We also knew that we were looking for tags that said “Perennials–no maintenance required,” because otherwise they would be dead in a week.

I had finally, by experience, realized my grandmother and mother’s “green thumb” had passed me by. I switched to silk plants. Ouch. Several months down the calendar they had to be thrown away. Over the years I could have outfitted a cemetery, and then one day–a red letter day–I discovered Silk Plant Cleaner. It really doesn’t clean them–it simply puts a layer of shiny stuff on the leaves and flowers and dries. Presto! You have a new silk plant.

We actually did buy some plants. It will be interesting to see how well they do, as we read the instructions for light, water, and plant food. These are outside, so perhaps they will do well. If so, perhaps my daughter just has had a yet untested green thumb, or one that’s been dormant!

Many of the plants we saw had been reduced to ridiculous prices because they looked as if they were barely hanging on to life. I have to admit, we were tempted to buy some of the drying up bushes that might turn into beautiful roses. Tempted, but not an action carried through. She was afraid of wasting money, and not being able to bring life back into the half-dead plants. We left those and settled for some with lovely color that looked as though they might make it through the summer.

As we left, I couldn’t help but think of the similarity between the plants and our responsibility to people with whom we come into contact. Have you ever looked at eyes as you walked through the mall? So many seem as though half their life is being snuffed out. One lady this morning was on the phone, saying “But you hurt me so badly!” By other sentences she said as we passed, I could tell she was talking to a daughter, and I wanted to give her a hug, but knew it would scare her to death. Others have a look of sorrow, some show anger, some seem happy–but there is so much possibility of taking the “half-dead” spirit that is inside them, and putting a little “water,” “plant food” or “sun” in their lives by a simple smile, or even a simple sentence telling them something they are wearing is very lovely. Few women will not accept that gift of a compliment. It is such a small thing for us to do, but may be the kind word they have been needing. Men as well. I seldom hold back from adding a small sentence to a “hello,” just to remind someone they are part of a community.

Yesterday’s sermon from Thomas Road asked the question, “What Does Service Look Like?” We’re told in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 that no matter what we say or do, give away or speak, if love is not motivating us, our efforts amount to nothing. We are to love those whom we pass by as much as we love ourselves. Love is the action word that goes before all service. By it, we show that we are His disciples. There are so many ways you can show love to those around you: what about a child whose parents have little time for him/her? Or the elderly one who lives alone and would love to have someone to listen to old memories? Always remember, you will take nothing with you to heaven except for souls you have brought to the cross!

Get out your notebook, a cool drink, friends if they will join you, and go to the message preached yesterday (June 11, 2017), and listen as Pastor Jonathan tells how the world looks at us, and judges all Christians by your walk. A powerful sermon, but no good unless you put it into your heart, and apply it to your life! Click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, and select “What Does Service Look Like?” Then go below and study the message, writing your answers as God brings ideas and other Scriptures to mind. And if you enjoy it, share it with those you love, so that eventually we can reach our community, our county, state and nation.

What Does Service Look Like?                                                                                               Jonathan Falwell

Open:

What do you fear the most when you think of being called to help in any given task outside of your home? Do you consider yourself a follower or a leader?

When you asked Jesus Christ to save you from your sins, you believed He is God and that He paid your sin debt. You confessed your sins, and turned from them, as we are told in Romans 10:10. You may have wondered “what next?” Christ said in Luke 10:27 the two things He desires is for us to “Love the Lord your God,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”— both beginning with the action of “love.” This week we will look at verses from the Sermon on the Mount to get a further grasp of what our service should look like.

Focal Passage: Matthew 5:13-16

Think About or Discuss:

We Are to Speak the Truth

  1. Read Matthew 5:13-16. In the simplest terms, share what being “salt to the world” means for a believer. Does that describe you? Why or why not?
  2. What are the two main uses for salt? Did Jesus mean one, or both? Explain how we do each.
  3. Read Ephesians 4:15; what is necessary when we speak truth to the world?

We Are to Show Love

  1. In verse 14a, what is the responsibility of the believer? Read John 3:20, 21. Now answer the question from this perspective.
  2. What is the condition of much of the world in this age we are living? Based on these verses, will most people actively seek out a church to try to change their sinful behavior? Does that make verse 14a hold a deeper meaning?

We Are Not to Be Ashamed

  1. Read verse 14b. Can you briefly share something you are passionate about, when fear of how others will react doesn’t dim your enthusiasm? How does this demonstrate our verse? Why are we not this outspoken about Jesus?
  2. Do you have a story of sharing the gospel, and what you learned from it? If it was negative, did that cause you to quit? Why was that the wrong decision? 

We Are to Share the Gospel

  1. Read verse 15. Have you ever wondered if, when you stand before God, hundreds—perhaps thousands—of souls could be standing nearby, all of whom you had the opportunity to witness to, but didn’t? Will anyone be in heaven because of you? Those are sobering thoughts! If you don’t share Jesus, who will? Think about or discuss your thoughts for a moment, or jot them in your notebook.

We Are to Set the Pace

  1. Read verse 16. When we share the light of the gospel of peace, what is the result supposed to be

Close:

When the moment came that you chose to accept Jesus as God’s Son, recognizing that He paid your debt of sin, that was your first step of obedience—you spoke the truth (the confession that you needed saving, and forgiveness from your sins). Prior to that time, you were in darkness.

Have you ever envisioned a pitch-black room, and realized what a small amount of light it takes to make those who are inside feel some comfort? Even something so tiny as a match from a “matchbook” is enough to bring light into the room. If you could imagine yourself being even a tiny light in a world of darkness, would it give you a jump start to witnessing? He asks that you love Him enough to share just what you know with those around you—just to speak the truth that you recognized the day you got saved. You’re not asked to have a degree in Theology—just tell what He did for you. Failure to share Jesus is based in the fear that you will be asked something you don’t know.  And yet in other areas—teams, movies, politics, etc.—we usually don’t let ourselves be beaten down by fright, and stating “I don’t know” doesn’t bother you. Have you asked yourself why? If telling others your story of salvation is fearsome for you, pray daily about it until you feel God starting to answer. This is something that He cares passionately about, which should make it a priority for you! Pray that He would give you the courage to “let your light shine.”

Memory Verse: Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

How Do We Let Our Light Shine?

  1. Consecration: Live your life in your own area of influence so well that others can think of nothing bad to say about you (Titus 2:7,8).
  2. Dedication: Work hard so that you don’t have to be ashamed before God (2 Timothy 2:15, 24).
  3. Motivation: Keep moving forward, even in the face of adversity (Philippians 3:13-15)

Personal Commitments

  1. Daily Bible Reading and study
  2. Committed to prayer
  3. Connected to a local church
  4. Telling others of Christ
  5. A constant pursuit of holiness
  6. Giving of one’s talents, time and treasures to others.

   Need to write? sdayfarm@aol.com

 

© Teodor Ostojic | Dreamstime Stock Photos

LOVE LIFE AND SEE GOOD DAYS…

Math. Either there was just a collective groan, a sigh, or something in between–like okay, what now? Well, there isn’t much I remember from those “good ol’ days,” but as far as I know, I’ve never used the multitude of stress placed upon me to pass Trig class, or even Algebra; I’ve never dissected a frog or used a Bunsen burner. But one thing I remember well: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Or maybe it wasn’t math, maybe it was Science–but no matter, the lesson  is the same. 

I say this because I have had a crisis too big too handle, and something had to go from my time allotment: sleeping and eating were rather necessary, so that left writing, cleaning house, and “life.” For that, I feel I owe (the opposite reaction to letting it go), an apology. I think I hoped that some would actually click on the latest service at Thomas Road and listen.

Yesterday, which you’ll hear if you haven’t already, it was made plain to the congregation that a change is coming. Not something we (the members) would have chosen, but one lesson was made plain, and it fits here. When God speaks to your heart, only a very foolish person would ignore the King of the universe. That is not happening within our staff, because the person desires a holy and obedient life, and truly, the sorrow over losing one whom we love is outweighed by the fact that God has chosen to send him elsewhere. And in tying that together with my own life, I had decided, based on internal situations that seem out of my control, to stop this blog. I felt a failure for not being able to do it twice in over a year. Fifty two (plus) weeks, and I was going to let it quit because I let Satan tell me I was a failure for not being able to do it last week. Shame on me.

 If you’re familiar with Thomas Road now, you know we feature a “My Road” video, where someone tells his/her story. Yesterday, answering my feeling of inadequacy, the person interviewed said that the person who was using social media to try to spread the gospel should NOT quit. That was a paraphrase, but it hit home. Was it God who had orchestrated that person to speak on a Sunday when I was going to throw in the towel? Without a doubt. Do I reach even one person who wants to know God better? I have no clue. But like our staff person, I would be a fool to quit when I have nothing more to claim than a lack of strength to continue. “To him who knows to do (something that is) good, and does not do it, to him this is sin.” End of story.  I was convicted, chastised, and will continue to strive to set out the sermon studies for Thomas Road, not knowing if anyone is encouraged by them. My email is at the bottom anytime anyone wants to write. And to add a final thrust, God chose the sermon to be on doing those things that bring happiness–not external through “things,” but internal through molding us into the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Are you ready to settle back, get your notebook, and listen as the service is broadcast, with singing, with tears, with heartache, and with joy. Obeying God is always going to bring joy, no matter the tears. Remember the reaction? The tears of pain and separation will still result in joy by doing God’s will. We would not know joy if we did not know pain. My daughter pointed that out earlier: that only by knowing sadness can we recognize happiness. Let’s click on the service from Sunday, May 15 (Happy Mother’s Day to any mom reading this!), and see what God has in store for us this week. Joy, God promises, comes in the morning. That’s a promise! Let’s look for the morning.

Click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and select the main sermon from the series “Not My Jesus.” We continue to search our hearts to see that our lives are being transformed daily into who Christ wants us to be. If you have a Strong’s Concordance, it will be a special help for some of the words used in the focal passage. Get you a drink, a friend if possible, and let’s dig in, having a special treat of the children being part of the song service. May you be “blessed” as you watch and listen!

Not My Jesus: What Jesus Really Said                                                                                                                                  Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

If you’ve heard of the Autobahn in Germany, you know it’s an open speed limit highway; that seems like a driver’s dream, doesn’t it? Especially days when you’re trapped behind cars going less than a stated speed limit and you can’t pass. Why would no speed limit seem so great, and do you think that’s the way it is in reality?

This week we want to carefully grasp some of the instructions for Christians to have a life blessed by God, from Jesus Himself. In this series, “Not My Jesus,” we’ve looked at the myths surrounding Jesus, the views the world has, Jesus’ own witness of who He is, and the witness of God the Father. Now we will look at several of His guidelines for happiness, apply those truths to our daily living and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas where we need to become more like Him!

Focal Passage: Matthew 5:1-12.                                                                               Video: Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr., 1975

Think About or Discuss:

The Humble in Heart

  1. Read verses 1-3. Why does the Bible specifically say, “He opened His mouth and taught them”—does anyone remember?[i]
  2. What characterizes someone who is “poor in spirit”? Why would they attain happiness?

The Mourners

  1. In verse 4, what type of mourners did Jesus mean?
  2. Read Luke 18:13, and 1 Tim. 1:15, 16. How do these two passages illustrate the need for people to mourn their sinful state, and what does God do to comfort them?

The Inheritors

  1. What do you think of when you hear the term “meek”? What are some of the Biblical meanings of meek? After discussion, or writing, did you have the meaning correct?[ii]
  2. When you think of something being “inherited,” what comes to mind? How or why would these meek people inherit the earth? Someone read Phil. 4:11-13. How does being content within your circumstances give you blessings?

Those Who Hunger and Thirst

  1. Verse 6: When is the last time you were truly hungry, or extremely thirsty? How can you develop your spiritual appetite so that you desire God’s word daily, meditating on it even “in the night watches” (Psa. 63:6,7)?
  2. Read Job 23:12b. How does this passage illustrate verse 6 of Matthew 5? What will change in your life if you desire God’s word with the same craving you exercise in your food life?

Close:

You’re probably wondering, how does the Autobahn illustrate our spiritual life? Many live their lives as if there are no rules or consequences, which isn’t the true reality. Yet the world assumes following Jesus is a life of do’s and don’t’s, and perceive it as taking away everything they think they enjoy—their “speed limits” if you will. The truth is, Jesus says following Him results in a life of being blessed (happy). In today’s sermon, we were so privileged to hear a forty-two-year-old message by Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr., as he reiterated that blessings come on the lives of those who live in a manner that pleases God. Just as we are pleased to give our approval to our children when they obey with a great attitude, so God chooses to bless us when we strive to live holy, sanctified lives. Is that something you desire, as Job did? After hearing the message, did you weigh your lifestyle against the message Jesus taught on living a life of peace with God? It’s never about rules: it’s about the heart attitude, and the desire to please the God who bought us with His own blood! This week, as you go about your daily routine, take your spiritual pulse often to make certain your heart is beating in sync with His. Share His love when the opportunity presents itself. What if God has placed you here for such a time as this?

Memory Verse: Matthew 5:1,2: “And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them saying.”

[i] It means “listen up!” “Pay attention!”

[ii] Meekness is “strength under control.”

sdayfarm@aol.com

GETTING CONTROL OF DISCOURAGEMENT!

dreamstimefree_6069751

There was something wrong about the contents of the small drawer that I pulled out from the buffet in the dining room. Any mystery writer will show their PI’s, detectives, or Fed agents always pay attention to a women’s “sixth sense!” Carefully I removed the things in the drawer, and saw, hidden at the back, a small, valuable Depression Glass bowl, broken into pieces. The thought of my young daughter was instantly rejected, but her slightly older brother definitely fit the role of a Person of Interest!

Bringing him into the room and showing him the open drawer confirmed my suspicions. It wasn’t so much the broken bowl that disturbed me as it was the fact that he had hidden the evidence, thinking, I’m certain, that he would be buying himself time, or possibly I would never see it! Wrong. Mom’s are about 80% Superwoman and 20% normal, functioning women.

Discipline had to be meted out, but the cover-up of the accident (I knew it had to be) was my main concern, and the issue that would have to be addressed. Afterward, I’m sure the discipline yielded the peaceable fruit of righteousness, and he was sorry he had tried to get by with not telling me (I would have understood that accidents are a part of growing up). I was sorry, as the bowl was a family heirloom, and the consequence of his action was that it could not be replaced.

Now, many years later–too many to count–I’m in the same position again, with the children of either the daughter or that same little boy, now a dad! I found (to my discouragement) a beautiful Delft lamp stuffed into a waste bag in the den. It was in tons of pieces. I figured my husband was a little old to hide the evidence, but 7 grandchildren who are often down there certainly became POI’s!! I now have to take them one by one, addressing the issue, not of the breakage, but of hiding the evidence. Doubly so since someone younger may have been cut badly had they stepped on one of the smaller pieces overlooked on the floor. Again, a consequence that means my lovely lamp cannot be replaced.

Now is a good time to get your notebook, a hot drink, cookies, and maybe a friend (or several!) and watch the sermon from Thomas Road Baptist Church, preached Sunday, February 5, 2017. Click on the link http://www.trbc.org/sermon-archive and select the right date. This sermon on actions, consequences and how to rise above them will really hit home if you have things in your past that scream “Unworthy!” at you as you try to live the Christian life. Invite others who may benefit from the wisdom in the message, and let God do a work in your life as you continue with the sermon study below. If you have time, watch the entire program, as LU Praise presents a song of worship!

Overflow: The Biggest Connection to the Right Direction                                                     Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

Inevitably, as a human being, we will sin. That sin may eventually result in consequences that can cause us to be discouraged because of the pain it caused. Can you think of something you can share? If you are doing this on your own, write your answers in a notebook.

Today we look at Hebrews 12, focusing on laying “aside the sin that so easily trips us.” We want to examine the first of two types of discouragement: one that results when our own sinful choice or action causes consequences that may result in our becoming depressed. (The second—caused by others—will be looked at next week). The discouragement can be a tool Satan uses to rob us of our joy as a believer, crowding out our effectiveness.

Focal Passage: Hebrews 12:1, 5-13

Think About or Discuss:

All sin has consequences

  1. Read Rom. 3:23. What sin is specified here? How does God view sin?
  2. What about the consequences of sin—can they differ? How?
  3. Read Heb. 12:5 If sin is continued, or left unconfessed, as a loving Father, what must God do?

Those consequences can leave us discouraged if we don’t see their value

  1. Does confession to God eliminate the consequences? Think of examples.
  2. Read verse 6. Why is it important to examine the consequences to see their value?

God’s discipline is a clear picture of His love for us

  1. Read verses 7-8. Why must you be disciplined because of sin?
  2. Read Prov. 3:11-12 and 14:34. Why should these verses bring you comfort?
  3. If God does NOT discipline you for sin, what may this mean?

This discipline will ALWAYS make us better

  1. Read verses 10-11. What is the purpose of God’s discipline? In verse 11, what should be the result?
  2. Don’t allow these moments to get you down; let them raise you up
  1. Read verses 12-13. What is the picture this passage paints of the effect of discouragement on the physical body?
  2. How can Satan use discouragement to rob you of your usefulness to Christ, and your joy as a Christian? Read Phil. 3:13-14. How can you apply this verse to yourself?

ACTION  APPLICATIONS:

1) Make a list of consequences you are facing, or have faced, as a result of bad decisions or sin;                                                                                                                                                           2) Evaluate each one from the viewpoint of what you learned from those consequences; 3) If you can’t find something you’ve learned, take some time to determine what you should learn;                                                                                                                                             4) If there is unconfessed sin that is part of this, confess it and ask forgiveness;               5) If you need to seek forgiveness for something you’ve done to others, do so.                                                                                                                                                                 6) Is there an action you need to take to move past it?                                                                 7) Move on!

Close:

Discipline! Not a word we really like, as it indicates a certain action has been done and is going to have a “reaction.” If someone has a child who begins doing something that can have dire consequences if continued, the parent will want to stop it before it becomes a habit, and institute a punishment to change or correct the behavior. God also has standards for us, and when we violate those standards with our living, He must discipline us. The comfort found in God’s discipline is that He only does this to those whom He calls His children. (To be sinful but see no discipline should cause you to closely examine your life to make sure you are saved.) And often our actions have consequences that may go on for the rest of our lives. If we are not careful and intentional, we may find the discouragement of long-standing consequences can ruin our joy, rob us of being useful Christians, and affect our health. Don’t let Satan “devour” you by telling you that you are worthless, but pray constantly that your life lines up with the biblical standards God has given. “Lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares you,” and run your race with strength!

Memory Verse: Hebrews 12:11: “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

Thought: Sometimes, when we are in sin and discipline does not come immediately, we may feel we have “gotten away with it.” This is addressed in Romans 2:4 when Paul writes, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” God may extend His patience and mercy, allowing us time to realize how badly we are hurting Him, but not at all ignoring the sin. To continue without discipline should bring us to our knees even more quickly, as His goodness should lead us to an even greater repentance! If not, we may be despising the “riches of His goodness” and incur even greater wrath.

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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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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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SHARING JOY AND SORROW

dreamstimefree_96827The inky black darkness bombarded my brain as my eyelids popped open. What is it that wakes us in the middle of the night–halfway between midnight and the time we need to wake up–and won’t let us go back to sleep? A boogeyman, as other kids told us when we were young? Then he started whispering those thoughts that are so heavy on our hearts: “You know you can’t deal with this situation! You might as well give up. You’re not going to win. You’re going to lose everything. You’re a loser. You’ve nothing to gain…” and so on and so on. On a good night, when we’re firing on all cylinders spiritually, we can (and should!) immediately turn all of the attacks over to God in prayer–even out loud if we won’t wake anyone. But the need to talk it over, to perhaps wake your partner and unburden the heaviness, almost overwhelms you. Then you hear them wiffle a little snore, and no, you won’t wake them.

Why is it our first desire, when things are burdening us so, to share it with someone? Or our first reaction when we have news of great joy is to think of who we can tell, so they can rejoice with us? Because we were made for relationships, that’s why! Ideally, we are “plugged in to” Jesus so deeply as a Friend that even in the midst of those long night hours when we lay awake, we feel Him wrap His arms around us, hugging us, letting us know it’s going to be okay. There’s no boogeyman, no one who is going to eat us, and it’s only Satan’s minions who are doing his will to try to tear away our peace and joy. As we mentioned last week, this is a great time to have the 46th Psalm memorized, and sing it in our hearts, as the Bible says.

Get your notebook out, have it handy, and be ready to listen (if you haven’t already!) to the sermon preached at Thomas Road Baptist Church, Sunday, August 28, 2016. Click on the link here: http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and select the last sermon. If you are by yourself, and wish to do the study below in one day, great! If you have a friend or group who can join you, take as long as you wish, perhaps working through it during the week, but holding each other accountable. However you wish to study, do it “to show yourself approved by God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed.” (2 Tim. 2:15.)

Open:

What type of crisis are you currently facing, or perhaps have faced recently? Do you have someone who can help you carry the burden and walk this path of tears with you? Get your notebook out to write down the thoughts or answers that come to mind!

We are currently looking at the need to be deeply “plugged in” to Christ Jesus, walking with Him closely each day. This is very necessary as you face trials and unbearable catastrophes on an almost-daily schedule. Let’s look at the need to be walking so closely with Him that we all are passionate to share His light to a very dark world.

Think About or Discuss:

  1. The Mission Statement of TRBC is a three-fold focus, all inspired from God’s word. For those of you who are not part of TRBC, we exist to change our world by developing Christ-followers who love God and love people

One of those areas is the desire to change your world. Let’s look at what is involved.

It takes work

  1. Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21. What does Paul specifically tell you in verse 11a? If believers gather on Sunday, go through an “Order of Service,” then go home, will change in the world take place? Why or why not?
  2. You might pray for your “neighbor,” or someone you work or associate with, to be saved, but what are some things that must take place along with your prayer?
  3. Why would Paul say you have a “fearful responsibility?”

It takes commitment

  1. Read verse 14 again. Why is submission to the power of God completely at odds with the propaganda the world throws at everyone?
  2. How are you able to tell when a couple is happy in their marriage? How is that analogous to what people think when they find you call yourself a Christian? What do they think when they see your lifestyle?

It takes acceptance

  1. Read verses 16 and 17. Can someone be a “closet” Christian? Are there verses that come to your mind that refute that concept?
  2. Why is it necessary that others see your life has changed?

It takes HIM

  1. Read verse 19. Is there any reason for Christ to have died if you could get to heaven through your giving, through good works, or helping meet needs through social media?

It takes YOU

  1. Read verses 20 and 21. As you interact with people during a day, how many times do you actually look into their eyes to see if there’s a need? The eyes, it is said, are the window to the soul. What can their eyes tell you?
  2. How can you reach your world for Christ?

Close:

As you begin a new week, there’s much to think about concerning your passion to tell others what Christ has done for you. Take just a moment to write down some ways in which you can actually carry out the command of Christ to love the world (Matt. 28), love God with everything you are and everything you have, and love your neighbor (i.e., anyone you meet or come in contact with) more than you love yourself. List something you are passionate about. Does this passion exist in your relationship with Jesus? This week, ask Him to show you ways to know Him more intimately, love Him more dearly, meet ONE need of ONE neighbor, and start to change your world!

Memory Verse: 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.”

Focal Passage: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21.

Contemplate: The members of any local body of believers should be passionate about 1) Having a Commitment to Scripture; 2) Having Discipline in a deep Prayer Life; 3) Being Engaged in a Lifestyle of Worship; 4) Being Connected in your Community—or area of influence; 5) Having a Heart for Serving; and 6) Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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