Talking Points

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  • Dreaming God-Sized Dreams

    January 8, 2017


    Key Scripture:

    Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

    Ephesians 3:20 NIV


    Thoughts:

    What if we said, "This year is going to be the best year ever!" and relied on God?  Paul writes in Ephesians 3:20 "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."


    Think about that!  God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or even imagine!  This year, what are you wanting to accomplish?  Do you have financial goals, relationship goals, career goals?  What about goals in your faith?  Are you wanting to take a next step in your faith?  What about serving?  Or taking that step in faith in giving?


    Rick Warren says, "If you have no goals, you have no growth."  This year, what are you dreaming about?  What are you dreaming of quitting, starting, or continuing?


    Of course, when we have dreams, we know we will face challenges.  In fact, when it comes to our dreams, something happens from the time we were children to becoming adults.  We dream at a young age of doing anything our imagination creates.  As adults, though, our dreams become condensed and limited to paying off vehicles, houses, college funds, and building retirements.  


    Why?!


    Talking Points:


    1. We see our dreams as unattainable.  

    One obstacle to our dreams is ourselves.  How do we overcome that?


    Well, as we dream we have to have less fear.  Paul writes, "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid (fearful), but gives us power, love and self-discipline" (2 Tim. 1:7).


    And, when we dream, we need more faith.  Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."


    2. Others will see our dreams as despicable. 

    When we dream, we will experience others' negative responses of envy, jealousy, spite, hate, abandonment, etc.


    We see this in the life of Joseph.  Genesis 37:5 tells us that Joseph has a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more.  But we know how his story ends--God used this ordinary man in extraordinary ways!

    Lesson: Don't let others' opinions get in the way of your GOD-SIZED dreams.


    3. God sees our dreams as POSSIBLE!

    No matter how many people hate our dreams, or how much we doubt our dreams, God sees our dreams as possible.


    The Message translation of Ephesians 3:20 says, "God can do anything, you know--far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!"


    God can do anything, more than we could ever imagine in our wildest dreams.  That's an incredible promise!


    Remember, when you doubt yourself, you are your own obstacle.  Have more faith and less fear when imagining all God can do with you because  He sees your dreams as possible!


    "What is impossible for people is possible with God."

    -Jesus (Luke 18:27)


    Application:

    Reflect on these Scriptures, pray how God will make your dreams possible and a reality, and write down how you see God working!


    Ephesians 3:20; 2 Timothy 1:7; Genesis 37:5; Luke 18:27

  • Trusting God With Our Finances

    January 15, 2017


    Key Scripture:

    "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."

    Philippians 4:19 NIV


    Thoughts:

    What if today we changed our perspective on how we view money? What if we began a new way of thinking, where we really trusted God with our finances instead of ourselves? 


    Undeniably, money plays an everyday part in our lives.  In fact, money is such a big part of our lives that studies show it is the number one cause for conflict in relationships.  


    What if, instead, we redefined the power that money has in our lives. What if we said, "GOD, I will begin to trust YOU with my money."  


    Jesus said we can only serve one master.  Of all that he could have compared the things we would serve in this life, or the things we would put our focus on and pursue, Jesus referred to money


    We look to money for many things:  buying our lunch, paying our bills, purchasing "toys", paying for vacation, buying groceries, the list could go on.  


    This year, will we trust God with our money or will we allow money to become our God?  How can we refocus how we consider our finances and trusting God ?  


    As we redefine and refocus how we will trust God with our finances, here are some points to consider:  


    Talking Points:


    1.  God will meet your needs, not your greeds.    

    In Philippians, Paul writes, "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus" (Phil 4:19, NIV).


    Let that soak in.  God will meet all our needs...not our greeds.  God knows our needs--but he also knows our spending habits and our giving habits.  God knows our financial shortfalls, losses, and necessities.   


    In Malachi, God addresses our heart and our habits towards money.  In this short text, the focus  is on giving.  He says to bring him a tenth of everything we produce.  1/10th.   Malachi 3:10 reads, "'Test me this way,' says the Lord. 'Then you will see that I will throw open the windows of heaven. I will pour out so many blessings that you will not have enough room to store them.'"


    What an amazing promise!  


    Jesus also knew money would be an issue.  He said, "No one can serve two masters at the same time. Either you will hate one of them and love the other. Or you will be faithful to one and dislike the other. You can’t serve God and money at the same time.” (Luke 16:13, NIRV)


    2.  Not because of our wealth, but because his worth.

    "...according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."


    We have to realize that what Christ does for us, and gives us, is not because of what we have done or what we have accumulated...but BECAUSE OF HIM and what HE HAS DONE!


    "God’s grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn’t come from anything you do. It is God’s gift.  It is not based on anything you have done. No one can brag about earning it."

    Ephesians 2:8-9, NIRV


    God will meet our needs not because of our wealth, but because of his worth.  It's not what's in your wallet but where your heart is.  Do you trust God enough to meet your needs?  Have you managed well what he has given you?  Jesus said, "if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?" (Luke 16:11).


    3.  God's promises are for those who receive him, not reject him.


    God wants his people to be successful.  He wants us to be immeasurably blessed.  These are scriptural promises to everyone who has received--not those who reject him.  As followers of Jesus, John gives us an awesome promise:

     

    "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."  

    John 1:12 NIV


    Application:


    As you reflect on your finances, what are your habits?  Are you creating habits of giving?  Are you taking steps to trust the Lord with your finances?  What steps can you take to trusting God?


    Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."


    As you pray how you can take steps in trusting God with your money, remember the Lord says TEST ME IN THIS!  Expectantly look for God to throw open the windows of heaven and  pour out so many blessings that you will not have enough room to store them.


    Take a step in faith and in trust that God would immeasurably bless you as you trust him with your finances!


    Philippians 4:19; Malachi 3:10; Luke 16:13; Ephesians 2:8-9; 

    Proverbs 3:5-6




  • What If We Believed God's Promises?

    January 22, 201


    Key Scripture:


    When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself.

    Hebrews 6:13


    Thoughts:


    There are many promises in the Bible.  God promises to give us a hope and a future; he gives us plans to prosper and not to fail; he works all things to come together for the good of those who are called according to his purposes; he promises to never leave us or forsake us; he plans to immeasurably bless us.


    What if we not only believed in God's promises but lived every day knowing they applied to us?


    What would our lives look like if we took the promises of God and lived according to those promises?  Here are four significant promises that will strengthen our daily lives:


    Talking Points:


    1. He promises us the Holy Spirit.


    Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever--the Spirit of truth.

    John 14:15-17


    For the follower of Christ, Jesus gave us the promise to give us his Spirit; through his Spirit, the presence and the power of God is with us wherever we go.  


    2. He promises to help overcome temptation.


    We've all heard the saying, "God won't give you anything you can't handle on your own."   Nothing could be further from the truth and the word of God.  Over and over again through the Scripture we see that God's people experienced circumstances they could not handle on their own.  Consider the incident between Jospeh and with Potiphar's wife.  With God's help and promise, we, too, can escape whatever sticky situation or temptations occurs.


    "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

    1 Corinthians 10:13


    You read that correctly!  No temptation has tempted you that no one else has ever experienced!  When tempted, he will provide a way out so that you can endure it.  


    Remember, Jesus was fully God and fully human and "because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted."

    -Hebrews 2:18


    3. He promises us forgiveness.


    This is a big one.  We know that all sin, all of us miss the mark, and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).


    When, NOT IF, WHEN we fall short--God freely gives us forgiveness.  


    "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

    1 John 1:9


    In Jesus we have an advocate who steps in and steps up to justify and sanctify us; he declares us righteous before God through his sacrifice and forgiveness.


    We have an advocate with the Father--Jesus Christ, the righteous one.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only ours but for the sins of the world.

    1 John 2:1-2


    He takes our sin and separates it as far as the east is from the west!


    4. He promises to come again.


    For followers of Jesus, this gives us a reason to have unspeakable joy and live a radical life!


    Jesus said, "My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

    John 14:2-3


    Application:


    What if we really believed in God's promises?  Would we walk differently in life?  Would we speak differently?  Would we wake up everyday with a purpose-driven life?  How would we rethink our investments with out time, talent, and our treasure? 


    1.  Pray that the Lord will overwhelmingly give you opportunities to  share with others the hope only he provides.  


    2.  Believe that as God gives you the promise and presence of his Holy Spirit, you will flee from temptation through God's wisdom and direction.  


    3.  Believe that he offers his forgiveness when you fall short.  


    4.  Live everyday awaiting expectantly his return and make a significant impact in your circles of influence and in your community!  


    Hebrews 6:13; John 14:15-17; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 2:18

    1 John 2:1-2; 1 John 1:9; John 14:2-3




  • What If We Obeyed God's Commands

    January 29, 2017


    Key Scripture:


    And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death--even death on a cross.

    Philippians 2:8


    Thoughts:


    We often cringe, get apprehensive, or hesitant when we hear the words, "obey," "command," or "submit," especially in the context of church, faith, or religion.  However, what we really need is a new perspective of what obedience in the faith looks like.  


    We need a mental and spiritual reboot of who God is and what obedience to him and  following him looks like.  We need to reevaluate our assumptions and our understandings.   To do that, let's adopt a fresh perspective on what obedience looks like and what happens if we obey God's commands:


    Talking Points:


    1.  We view obedience as imitation and not as limitation.


    We need to remember that Jesus doesn't just call for, or expect, obedience, he models it.


    Paul writes in Philippians, "And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death--even death on a cross.

    Philippians 2:8


    Being fully God and fully man, Jesus understands the situations we face in life today.  He even prayed that if there was any other way than the cross that God would allow it or provide it.  He prayed that God would take that cup of suffering away.  But he also said, "I want your will to be done and not mine."  That's a mindset and a statement of obedience.  


    We also need to reprogram our thinking that God's commands are there to protect us, not to limit our happiness.  Consider the ten commandments for instance.  The opposite of those commands are far from God's desires.  Killing and coveting are contrary to the Word of God.  His commands lead to protection and our obedience will lead to happiness and freedom and not limited lives.  Remember, sin is taking God-given desires and fulfilling them in God-forbidden ways.   


    2.  Obedience is motivated by love, not obligated by law.


    1 John 5:2-3 says, "We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments.  Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome."


    A true encounter with Jesus will lead us to be motivated by love to live within God's freeing boundaries.  If we believe that living in God's will and way is losing in life and not enjoying life, we need to reconsider and reevaluate our understanding of who God is and the life he gives.


    Jesus said "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment" (Matt. 22:37-38).


    3.  A life of obedience results in rewards.


    We read in Luke 5 that Jesus had just finished teaching in the crowds and told Simon to take the boat out on the water and let down their nets to fish.  Simon replied,  "'...we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.'  And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! "


    As children, how many times have we heard our parents say, "Because I said so...", and now, if you're a parent, you're on the other end of that statement, having the privilege of saying that to your kids?


    As followers of Jesus, the disciples were on the other end of the statement and said "Because you say so" and they were rewarded.  When we follow Jesus in obedience, we are rewarded with a Spirit-led, fruit-filled life!  When we live a life in the boundaries established by God, he will reward us.  


    Application:


    1.  If you see God as a cosmic killjoy, pray that you'll allow God's Spirit to work in and through you to reevaluate the misunderstandings or misperceptions you may have of God and his healthy and holy boundaries. 


    2. Remember that obedience is an act of imitation and not God placing a limitation on your life.  Obedience is motivated by love and not obligated by law, and results in rewards.


    3.  Consider the areas in your life that you fall short and how you can walk in obedience to his will and way, looking for him to reward your godly obedience.  


    The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.
    The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
    The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart.
    The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.

    Psalms 19:7-8


    Philippians 2:8; 1 John 5:2-3; Matthew 22:37-38;

    Psalms 19:7-11;