Join us Sunday for a brand-new series, Why in the World, with Andy Stanley at 9, 11, 2, 6 or 10pm ET.
Too often, the church doesn't feel like a safe place for people who are far from God. They experience judgment and rejection. But that's not what Jesus intended when he established his church. He meant for the church to be a magnet for the unchurched, a place where they could find reconciliation with God.
We love to win. We love winning in our finances. We love winning power in our careers. We love winning in romance. We love winning in life. And we hate losing as much as we love winning. We even take it personally when our favorite sports teams lose, even though we’re not actually on the teams.
But in the Gospels, Jesus introduced a counterintuitive principle: In order to win, you have to lose.
As we said in Part 1, winning anything significant involves choosing to lose something else. In Part 2 of this series we're going to discover something in a very familiar story in the New Testament that is unnatural and uncomfortable for any of us to choose to lose, but when we do it opens the door to the biggest wins in following Jesus. Choosing to lose in this way allows us to experience something that changes us and our relationship with God forever.
The gospel of Luke records that Jesus sent seventy-two of his followers out into the world to minister to others. Jesus had poured into him, and now he expected them to pour into others. He was about to launch a worldwide movement, and sending out his followers was a way of establishing a model. This was how the church would grow.
Jesus has invited you the way he invited the seventy-two. You can’t follow him as a spectator. You have to participate. You have to get involved.
Did you know there's a question that makes it easy to determine the answer to all the other questions?
All you have to do is ask it!
Solomon, the third king of Israel, wrote more about wisdom than any other biblical writer. He was considered by some to be the wisest man who ever lived. In his writing, he laid out three kinds of people who lack wisdom: the simple lack experience; fools know the difference between right and wrong, but don’t care; and mockers not only know the difference between right and wrong but are critical of those who choose to do right.
Eventually, people in each of these categories need wisdom . . . but they may not find it.
Scripture says God has determined the number of your days. You can make more money and you can make more friends, but you can’t make more time. You can count your money and your friends, but you can’t count your time. In light of that truth, knowing what to do with your time matters. It’s vital that you use your time wisely.
When it comes to temptation and decision-making, we all look for loopholes. When tempted, we look for excuses to tell ourselves yes when we should tell ourselves no. We ask, “Is there anything wrong with this? Is it illegal? Will it hurt anyone?” But it’s a bad idea to assume that if something is not wrong, it’s right. Our decision-making filter shouldn’t be based on what’s permissible, but on what’s wise. In no area is this more important than decisions related to our sexual expression. There’s no area where we’re more prone to self-deception.
You always have something working against you when making personal decisions: you. Personal decisions are emotional, yet emotionally charged environments aren’t ideal for decision-making. Your emotions make the obvious less obvious. This is why you’re probably better at managing someone else’s money than your own. It’s why you know exactly what your neighbor needs to do about his marriage, but have no clue how to improve your own. It’s why your kids baffle you, while a complete stranger’s just need a good spanking.
When it comes to making decisions, we have a real problem: It’s next to impossible to hear the voice of wisdom when emotions are raging.
You are painting a picture entitled Your Life. It’s made up of a series of decisions. And you don’t get to hide your early endeavors in the attic. You get only one canvas. Will you do it yourself or will you let someone guide your hand?
A special Christmas devotion to close out 2013.
There’s an unstated part of the American dream. It goes like this: “We have the freedom to do what we want, when we want, with whom we want, and nobody can tell us what to do . . . as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody.” But what if life doesn’t work that way? What if you can’t do what’s right in your own eyes without eventually hurting someone?
The dark underbelly of the American dream is, “I can do what I want, when I want, with whom I want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.” We don’t want “kings” in our lives, whether those kings are parents, bosses, the government . . . or God. We want to do what’s right in our own eyes. But in our attempts to do what we want, when we want, with whom we want, we end up serving little kings like appetite, lust, fear, comparison, insecurity, generational dysfunction, addiction, loneliness, and greed.
Do you really want to be like everybody else? Everybody else takes their cues from everybody else. Being like everybody else just makes you average—worried, in debt, bored, and dissatisfied with what you have. If you knew that living like everybody else on the outside would leave you feeling like this on the inside, you would have done what you suspected was right in your heart instead of doing what was right in your own eyes.
Chances are your greatest regret can be traced back to a decision where your body wanted something that your heart knew was wrong. An appetite was raging. You saw something or someone you wanted . . . even though he, she, or it wasn’t healthy for you. But you gave in to your body anyway. You yielded to the little kings that want to replace the Creator King who calls you to live from the inside out.
What do you do when your body wants what your heart knows is wrong?
What kind of person do you want to be? When people have to stand and talk about you when you’re gone, what do you want them to say? Do you realize that’s up to you? What if you decided to be . . . extraordinary?
The book of Judges records God’s chosen people doing what they want, when they want, with whom they want. The tragedy was that ancient Israel began with divine intervention and a divine mandate. They were to show the world who God was by being different than the nations around them. But for three hundred years they lived in a cycle of disobedience, disaster, and deliverance. The entire time Israel was ping-ponging back and forth from obedience to disobedience, during an era when everyone did what was right in his or her own eyes, God was up to something else—he was decorating for Christmas.
No-strings-attached generosity was the hallmark of the first-century church. It should be a hallmark of the twenty-first-century church too. The apostle Paul told Timothy, "Command those who are rich in this present world . . . to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share." So let’s Be Rich. Let’s do more and give more than ever before.
From the very beginning, our vision has been to create a church that unchurched people LOVE to attend.
We have five churches in the Atlanta area and partner churches all over the world that people LOVE. Our plan is to continue to move our vision forward. The question is, what is your plan to partner with the church you love?
Have you ever had a change of heart about what you believe about someone?
What about what you believe about God? In this message, you will discover how to learn to believe rightly both about God and the people in our lives.
We all like certainty over uncertainty. We prefer feeling powerful to feeling vulnerable. Growing up, we were taught to be independent, not dependent on others. We want to prove we’re in control. We have a need for control. So, where does that need come from and how does it affect our relationship with a God who wants control over all aspects of our lives?
Being a spouse can be hard. Being a parent can be hard. Being an employee or co-worker can be hard. Managing our relationships with our parents can be hard. The people in our lives can drain us. That’s because we pour our hearts into them all day long and too often we rely on them to refill us. When that doesn’t happen, we have nothing left to pour out but bitterness and resentment.
But what if we’re looking to be refilled from the wrong source?
Everything that exists had a starting point . . . including you. You may have started on purpose. You may have started by accident (from your parent’s perspective). You may even have started through the magic of medical science. Whatever the circumstances, you had a starting point and it began before you were aware of it.
Physical life is one of many starting points. Your formal education had a starting point. Your career had a starting point. Your romantic life had a starting point. Your experience as a parent had a starting point.
Faith has a starting point as well.
During childhood, you may have been handed a faith framework through which you began to view the world. For a lot of us, that childhood framework didn't survive the rigors of adulthood. It's not enough to say, "The Bible says . . . ," in the face of real-life tragedy. Adults often need a new starting point.
But the starting point for Christian faith isn't, "The Bible says . . . ." It's better than that. It's Jesus.
The three largest faith traditions—Judaism, Islam, and Christianity—claim the same starting point: a man named Abraham. All three agree that sin made a mess of the world and God started his clean up operation with Abraham. God made a series of promises and Abraham’s response to those promises didn’t just have implications for his personal starting point or the starting points of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. It had implications for your starting point as well.
Practically speaking, rules are often the centerpiece of religious life. Many people think the Ten Commandments are rules that make a relationship with God possible. If you follow the rules, God will be happy. If you don’t, he won’t. But what if a relationship with God doesn’t depend on our obedience? When it comes to your relationship with God, what is the role of rules?
Guilt is powerful. Shame can be crippling. We all have things in our pasts that haunt us. We have sin. It only takes a word, a picture, or a name to bring it all back. We know we can do better from this point forward, but how are we supposed to fix the past? We can say we’re sorry. We can ask for forgiveness. But some of the things we’ve done hang over our lives like a cloud.
What can wash away our sins?
At some point in your faith journey, you will settle into a bargaining posture with God. “God, if you will . . . , I promise I will . . . .” We all do it. That’s just part of religion—every religion. In fact, it’s so much a part of human nature that even some atheists and agnostics do it when they find themselves in desperate circumstances. But is that really how God wants us to relate to him? The problem with a bargaining posture is we never keep up our end of the bargain, do we?
The ability to believe is the most powerful force at mankind’s disposal. Everything that has been done, for good or bad, was done because someone believed it could be or should be done. Every problem that has been solved was solved because someone believed it could be or should be solved.
We constantly look for evidence to support what we believe is true. In the case of religious belief, that means if you believe deeply enough any religious system becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If that’s true, isn’t it possible that Christianity is just an example of groupthink on a massive scale?
Jesus predicted that he would start a gathering, a movement . . . what we call church. And that church would spread all over the earth and outlast the Roman Empire. It would change the world. His prediction must have sounded outlandish to even his closest followers. But here we are, two thousand years later, and the Roman Empire exists only in history books, while Jesus’ gathering is still going strong. The church is the hope of the world because the church is the vehicle by which God is bringing the solution to mankind’s greatest problems: sin, sorrow, and death.
I have to thank you guys so much for putting these sermons online. For the last year and a half I have been working 7 days a week saving for nursing school. I thought I was doing great, felt good until I landed in the ER of the hospital I work at thinking I was having a stroke. I am ok turned out to be nothing life threatening but it got my attention BIG TIME! I have heard sermons on living with margin since becoming a Christian 13 yrs ago...but I never saw it as a lack of trust in God.
Thanks to this sermon series [Breathing Room] I am making BIG changes to my schedule. I am leaving one of my jobs soon and taking some time to de-escalate and breath. God has been doing some amazing stuff in my life over the last week. It's so fun!
Thanks for serving Jesus on the World Wide Web! It's the only way I could go to church over this crazy period of my life and so many sermons have been just what I needed to hear! Just wanted to share how God used you in Missouri!
- Viewer in Missouri
Last night I watched part of the sermon series FREE on Roku. In particular the final sermon. I have been seeing a Christian counselor for almost 1 year due to my frustration with the Christian life. It just never seemed to work.
After 25 years of trying to make it work , I was ready to give up. The final sermon in the series seemed to kind of make sense- maybe this is what I have been looking for. I would appreciate your prayers for my continued understanding of how God wants to relate to His people. And I really need a church to attend.
Thank you for your help