God's truth for today's world

Currently, we’re in a message series which I’ve entitled “Created To Do What?” The basic truth underlying this series is that you and I were created by God with a purpose in mind. God created you to do something special with your life, to do something unique that only you can do.

When you become a believer, God implants a desire in your heart to please God. God gives you a desire to fulfill the purpose you were created to fulfill. The desire of an unbeliever is to please himself first and foremost, but the desire of a believer is to please God first and foremost. If you’re living life with a me-first please myself mentality, you’re headed down a dead-end street, you’ll never fulfill the potential God created you with. But that can change this morning and you can become a God pleaser, you can become someone who serves God.

This morning I want to address and answer the question “How Can I Serve God”? The short answer to that question is to live as Jesus lived. Jesus is our example. When we pattern our lives after Him we will serve God as He did. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to just get by in life.I want to be great in the Kingdom of God, I want to be great in God’s eyes. How about you? Here’s what Jesus said to His disciples who also wanted to be great. NIV Matthew 20:26,28 Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. So the key to become great in serving God is to be a servant of others, just as Jesus came to serve others and not to be served. Now this runs contrary to the me-first culture of our time. Jesus is saying that you become great by serving God and others rather than serving yourself.

Now for a lot of people this is a scary and frightening thought. I hear it nearly every week from people and it basically goes like this. “My life is in such trouble that I’ve got to look out for myself first. I don’t have any time or resources to help anybody else, in fact I’m so busy taking care of myself that I don’t have much time for God or the church either. Maybe when I pull myself together, I’ll have time for God and serving others.” People are basically afraid that if they give to God and others that they’ll come out on the short end of the stick and their stick is pretty short to begin with. If you’re one of those people this morning, here’s what God says to you “Just close your eyes and jump into serving me and others and see what happens. See if your life doesn’t change for the better, don’t be afraid just jump in.”

So today I challenge you to make a decision to just jump into all that God has for you in serving Him and others Just jump in.

To hear more about this topic, listen to my message entitled How Can I Serve God?

Relationships are at the core of what it means to be human. Nobody wants to live life alone, nobody wants to live life without warm, loving relationships. Where do we get this strong desire for relationships? We get it from God. We were created in God’s image and God Himself consists of a relationship between the three persons of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So God created us to have a loving relationship with Himself and to have loving relationships with other people. Whether you’re a believer or not, every human being has the innate desire to have those two basic relationships with God and with people. Today I’m going to focus on our relationships with other people, but your relationship with God is actually the most important.

Last week we talked about Growing Together In A Life Group, building relationships with new people. Each of us needs to learn to build the relationships in our lives that God has blessed us with. NLT Philippians 2:1-2 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose. There you have God’s will for the family of God, we should agree wholeheartedly with each other, we should love one another and we should work together with one heart and purpose. Those three things are also God’s will for your family, agreeing with one another, loving one another and working together with one purpose.

Yet sometimes things go wrong and relationships that were once warm and close become cold and distant. Relationships that were once loving become broken. What should you do when a relationship becomes broken? Should you just give up on it? Look elsewhere for a new one? I believe that relationships are worth salvaging, so today I’m going to talk about How To Restore Broken Relationships. Those who restore broken relationships are peacemakers because broken relationships lead to conflict arguments and fights.

NLT Matthew 5:9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. The blessing of God is upon those who work for peace the blessing of God is on those who restore broken relationships. They will be called the children of God. Why? Because peacemakers are acting like their heavenly Father who made peace with us through the death of Jesus. So now lets see what God’s Word teaches about how to restore broken relationships in your life.

Think about the relationships in your life. Some may be going good, but there may be others that are strained or completely broken. Keep the one in mind that is the biggest problem in your life right now as we look at God’s Word.

To hear more about this topic, listen to my message entitled How To Restore Broken Relationships.

Today I’m going to talk about “How To Get Close To God.” Why would you want to get close to God? Think about it for a minute, why do people want to get close to other people? Some people want to get close to other people because they love and care about them. Other people want to get close to someone else because that person has power, money or influence and they feel they can receive a benefit by being close to them. Another reason someone might want to get close to someone else is to learn from them, to follow their example, to become like someone. All of those reasons are also reasons to get close to God.

When you are close to God, you benefit from that close relationship. NCV Psalm 73:28 But I am close to God, and that is good. The Lord God is my protection. When you are close to God, you receive God’s protection. When you are far from God, you’re out of His protection. That’s just one example of how getting close to God benefits your life.

Some people think being close to God is just for pastors or other spiritual leaders, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Regardless of your career, you can get close to God. Getting close to God does not depend on some special gifting from God, getting close to God depends on you. If you want to get close to God, if you follow God’s principles to get close to Him, you can become one of God’s best friends.

NLT James 4:8 Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. This verse is both a command and a promise. God commands you to draw close to Him. He also promises that if you obey that command to draw close to God, then God will draw close to you. God is waiting for you to respond to Him. He has issued the invitation. He is calling you this morning to draw close to Him, you need to answer His call.

God is calling you to draw close to Him. If you ignore His call, if you ignore His command, if you ignore His direction, you won’t build your friendship with God. You won’t get close to God, you’ll miss out on all the benefits of living life in the presence of God. In fact, if you don’t live a life close to God in this life, you won’t spend eternity with Him. Heaven is reserved for friends of God, those who have a growing close relationship with God. So today, let’s look at some biblical principles to discover how to get close to God.

To hear more about this topic, listen to my message entitled How To Get Close To God

The other day, one of our boys built a large house out of toy building blocks. It was magnificent, it had a driveway, a garage, even trees growing on the roof. Another one of our boys, playing in the room, for some unknown reason felt the urge to kick the house down. That precipitated loud screams and yells from the first boy who proceeded to chase his brother through the house until he tackled him. The screaming brought me onto the scene, I pulled the two wrestling participants apart and calmed everyone down. I got the true story and asked the boy who kicked the house down to say he was sorry. The second boy forgave him, they hugged each other and went back to playing together. The animosities of a few minutes before were forgiven and forgotten. Wouldn’t it be great if adults forgave each other that easily?

However, as adults, when someone has wronged us, we often find it easy to hold a grudge. We may say things like, “I could never forgive them for what they did to me.” Or we may say, “I can forgive but I can’t forget.” Maybe, we just keep an internal record of wrongs, keeping score as the relationship deteriorates. When wrongs have been done in a relationship and they remain unreconciled, you have a damaged relationship. If those wrongs continue being unreconciled, if new wrongs are added to them, eventually the relationship may be completely destroyed. In addition, if you are the one who has been hurt and you have not practiced forgiveness, your own life will be destroyed, spiritually, emotionally and often physically. Damaged relationships are serious business.

God wants us to learn what to do to restore damaged relationships and to learn how to release ourselves from the grip of unforgiveness. Here’s the basic principle from God’s Word. NLT Colossians 3:13 You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Take a quick inventory of your life. Is there anyone in your life who you hold a grudge against? Is it possible for your mind and emotions to be released from the pain of what someone else has done to you? The Bible teaches that it is possible, through the power of forgiveness.

To hear more about this topic, listen to my message entitled Restoring Damaged Relationships

Everyone of us is hurt from time to time. Sometimes we are hurt intentionally by others and sometimes unintentionally. Some hurts are little and within a short time we forget about them. What I want to talk about are the times when we are hurt and time doesn’t seem to bring healing. Every time we think of the person who hurt us, the pain and anger wells up inside again. Most people do not know what to do and continue to live with the pain, which often gets worse with time. I believe that there are two things God wants you to do when you are hurt. If you do these two things, God will bring healing into your life.

The first thing to do when you are hurt is the simplest, but often overlooked. Simply pray and ask for God to help you. There is great power in prayer. Life Church has many people attending who are unchurched. They are always so amazed the first time they give a prayer request to our prayer team and God answers the prayer, often very quickly. God is there to help, if we will but ask Him and oftentimes humble ourselves to ask others to pray.

The second thing to do when you are hurt is more difficult, it does not come naturally. When you are hurt, God wants to teach you to forgive the person who hurt you. Many people have trouble with forgiveness, they think that forgiveness is letting the other person off the hook. Forgiveness is really about letting you off the hook, the hook of unforgiveness. An increasing number of scientific studies are now documenting that unforgiveness is a key factor in many sicknesses and that people who forgive are more healthy.

What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is simply yielding your right to get even with the person who hurt you. It is not saying that what they did was right, it is not saying that God will let them off the hook. It is giving up on revenge and praying for them. How can you forgive when the hurt is great? You can forgive as you remember that God has forgiven you. You can forgive when you acknowledge that God is in control. Nothing that anyone will ever do to you can thwart God’s plan for your life. God is able to take even the worst of the hurts and turn it around for good for those who love God.

Recently, I read an amazing story about two men, Tass and Moran, who forgave one another and became lifelong friends. Tass was a Palestinian Arab, trained by the Fatah as a sniper to kill Jews. Moran was a Israeli soldier who had seen many of his friends killed by a suicide bomber. Each man, one a Muslim, one a Jew, became a Christian upon reading the Bible. God allowed them to meet one another and through a process of reconciliation and forgiveness, made possible by God’s grace alone, they became close friends. The answer to broken relationships, the answer to hurts in your life, the answer to problems between nations is found in Jesus. He has forgiven us, so we can forgive others.

TEV Eph. 4:32 Forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.