Beginning this Sunday, join us for a new series with Andy Stanley called Starting Over: How to Ensure Next Time Won't Be Like Last Time.
Sunday 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. ET
In spite of some of the Christians you’ve met or done business with, in spite of revivals and scandals, in spite of how you view the Bible, and in spite of your church experience, you should consider putting your faith in Jesus as your Savior. Why? It has nothing to do with your personal experience and everything to do with history's greatest mystery.
One of the unique things Christians believe is that God became one of us. For thirty years he lived under cover as a carpenter, surfaced as a miracle worker and rabbi for three years, and allowed himself to die in the most degrading way imaginable. He came as one of us but was treated as less than one of us.
Why in the world would God do that?
If there is a God, we all want to know what he’s like. We’re curious. Our tendency is to look in nature, outer space, or within ourselves to find clues about him. But that only provides us with an incomplete picture. Jesus made a radical claim. He said if you want to know about God, look no further than him. If you’ve seen the Son, you’ve seen the Father.
We’ve all been picked on for something we had no control over. It’s dehumanizing. In all likelihood, you’ve also picked on others. It’s such a strange thing. It’s such a human thing. The easiest way to feel superior is to find a person or group we feel is inferior and power up. And we’ve probably all been guilty of that outwardly or inwardly.
One of the reasons Jesus came into the world was to change all that.
We want answers for life’s mysteries. Is there an after life? Will I see my mom again? What does the Bible say about divorce? Does the Bible say we have to give ten percent of our money to the church? Religion tries to answer those questions. Religion is about answers, order, predictability. Unfortunately, life isn’t about any of those things. Life can be messy. Religion has a place in our lives, but Jesus taught us it’s not the first place. When religion takes first place, it begins flexing its muscles at the expense of mercy.
Isn’t it funny how two people can look at the same situation and come up with two completely different conclusions? Think about Easter. It will be here soon. For some people, the Easter story is about the incredible truth of the most inclusive, welcoming, amazing message the world has ever known. For others, the holiday is tainted by the belief that God is disappointed in them. People who believe God is disappointed in them, drift away from him.
But what if God isn’t disappointed? What if he’s a rescuer? What if he wants us to run toward him instead of away from him?
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?
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