Day 4: Love will always lead you to be more generous

No one likes being told what to do, especially when it comes to giving away money. 

In 2 Corinthians 8:1-15, Paul tells the Corinthian church to give, not because they feel obligated to, but as a reflection of their love for others. As an example, he points to the church in Macedonia.

Believers there were facing extreme poverty and trials. Yet in the midst of their suffering, the people had overflowing joy because they were generous in giving and sharing with others rather than holding tightly the little bit they had to offer. That’s the kind of love Christians are to show to one another — real, tangible, practical, and sacrificial generosity.

Being generous doesn’t happen without intentional effort on our part (2 Corinthians 8:7). Every married couple knows the words “I love you” don’t carry much weight unless they are supported by actions. The same is true with our love for others. Saying “I love you” is not nearly as impactful as showing someone you love them.

The beauty of learning to excel in the grace of giving is that generosity is a natural response to love. Generosity isn’t something that has to be forced. When we love someone, we want to provide for their needs with our time and attention.

God gave us the perfect example of sacrificial generosity in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). As followers of Christ, let’s put action behind our declaration and be generous in our time, finances and love.

Reflect:

  • When was the last time you did something crazy generous for someone else?
  • What’s one way that you can show love by being generous today?

Article courtesy of NewSpring 

Day 5: Integrity Makes A Difference

Read: Nehemiah 5

Nehemiah faced a difficult choice. The people’s vineyards, lands, and houses were at risk because of outrageous taxes imposed by the king. Now, the people suffered doubly as their own Jewish leaders extended loans with enormous interest rates. Their leaders behaved like loan sharks! Nehemiah could’ve taken the easy way out and kept quiet. Instead, he chose integrity.

When we face a difficult decision, remember Nehemiah’s example. Nehemiah didn’t make assumptions based on one person’s story. He heard several people’s accounts and saw their sufferings (Nehemiah 5:1-5). Nehemiah heard the people’s outcry and pondered them in his mind (Nehemiah 5:7). He didn’t say the first thing that came to mind. He thought carefully about what he was hearing and how to respond. Then, Nehemiah confronted those in authority. His integrity and obedience blessed the people of Israel.

In light of all Jesus has done, how can we respond with integrity and obedience? It’s not that we behave or perform to attain some kind of acceptance with God or others. If you want to know if you’re living with integrity, ask yourself:

  • Do I behave differently based on who is watching?
  • Am I striving to achieve some level of acceptance?

Our integrity matters. We do not have to cave to peer pressure. We can devote ourselves fully to the work God has placed before us. We make a difference with integrity because Jesus already made a difference in us.

Consider This:

When was the last time you were forced to choose between easy and integrity?

Pray:

Help me obey even when it’s tough. Help me to do what’s right even when my reputation is on the line.


Article courtesy of NewSpring

Week 1: Jeff Foxworthy

LiveSent = Join, Love & Tell (to cause trouble for good!)

  • Join Jesus
  • Love people like Jesus
  • Tell people about Jesus

Need To Know:
“You were created to do something good. TO cause trouble for good in your world. But before God causes trouble for good through you, God causes trouble for good in you.” ~ Apostle Paul

Need To Do:
You have to join Jesus. You have to say, “Yes, I will.” ~ Apostle Paul

  • Yes, I will pray. (21 Days of Breakthrough Prayer)
  • Yes, I will Do Something Good!

Truth Be Told – Townhall

This week is our town hall (Q&A) format. Pastor Miles Welch digs deeper into the lies we believe and how the enemy uses those lies to take us out. He takes questions from the small groups in the room ranging on:

  • The Anatomy of a Lie
  • Your Heart & Strength For God
  • Trials & Storms
  • Sin & Consequences
  • Fear & Anxiety
  • Forgiveness
  • Confidence in Our Faith

 

Trust God, Not Your Feelings

Pastor Kevin asks us where we find our answers to the big questions of life. Do we look inward and use our own thoughts and feelings to decide whether something is right or wrong? Or, do we look to God to determine how to live?

Our culture tells us to think for ourselves and act according to how we feel. But Jesus tells us to look to God — to get outside ourselves — and ask God to teach us what to believe and how to act. These answers can be found in the Bible.

From Living For Self To Living Sent

The Holy Spirit wants to empower us from living for self to living sent.

Living Sent is a disposition that our lives are more about ourselves.

Living Sent won’t change where we go, but it’ll change how we get there. We are living for more than self, we are sent by God into our world!

However, we cannot live sent without the power of the Holy Spirit. When we get on God’s agenda, we have access to God’s power!

What if God wants our lives to be filled with miracles and little less normal?

 

Embrace What Hurts

Most people avoid pain at all costs. It’s uncomfortable and almost unnatural to embrace what hurts us. But it’s what can make us most like Jesus.

When we are blessed with a burden, we cry, we pray, we fast — and then we act. We’re so broken by what grieves God that we’re moved to do something to make the world a better place.

We should embrace what hurts until we can’t stand idly by another minute.

Focused Passion

There are so many worthy causes and organizations to serve people in need; it can be overwhelming to choose where to serve. Keep it simple — choose one and give it your all.

Remember: many things will capture your attention, but few things will capture your heart. Whatever issue gives you the most righteous discomfort deserves your deepest attention and passion. Once you choose that issue, team up with an organization who’s already on the ground doing the work. Combine your efforts. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

Righteous Discomfort

Craig Groeschel of Life.Church issues a challenge: “Consistently expose yourself to something that creates a righteous discomfort.” This means we must regularly put ourselves in situations that break the heart of God.

If weren’t not consistent, we’ll be motivated to act for a time — and then our righteous discomfort will get lost in our own day-to-day issues. And if we stay safe and don’t expose ourselves to uncomfortable situations that include suffering, like poverty, physical and mental illness, abuse, exploitation, etc., we’ll be too comfortable to ever serve those in need.

Blessed and Cursed with Comfort

Most of us are materially blessed enough that we can pretty much get whatever we want, whenever we want (within reason). Our comfort makes our lives convenient, enjoyable, and relaxed.

But comfort can also be a curse. It makes us believe our lives should be all about catering to our own needs and fulfilling our own desires. We lose sight of the needs of others and forget the less fortunate. And the slightest inconvenience to us feels like the end of the world.

Comfort is like a drug; we always want more. But living in comfort, safety, and apathy is exactly the opposite of how Jesus taught us to live.

Cascading Loss

Pastor Kevin shares a conversation he had with his oldest son soon after he finished high school. He uses the illustration of a parking lot to explain that we don’t drift away from God and our dreams all at once – we cross over one line at a time. Before we realize it, we’ve ended up someplace we never intended to be.

To avoid this, we should focus on pleasing God instead of pleasing ourselves.

Walls & Gates

Beach Chair Theology: The good life walls out bad things and lets in good things. Master your walls and gates!

Walls (keeping bad things out):

  • Shirking
  • Ungrateful
  • Sexual Sin

Gates (letting good things in):

  • Meaningful Relationships
  • Blessing Someone
  • The Truth in Love

Daily Prayers:

  • God, give me the strength to wall out the bad things.
  • God, give me the wisdom to open the gate to good things.

Whatever God Breathes Into, Counts the Most

We need to train ourselves to recognize the things God breathes into. These are the things that count most in life!

When God breathes into things that matter, what is right, what His values are, He makes them larger in our lives.

But the world can take away from the things that God breathed into, like motherhood. Being a mother, is a sacred role, but our world has a way of lessening that.

We’re Here to Train You to Bless Others

PK uses an illustration of visiting a restaurant contrasted to visiting a church.

When we go to a restaurant, our expectation is to be served. The restaurant’s purpose is to serve the customer, not to turn the customer into a waiter.

In contrast, the church’s purpose is to make us “waiters” and not keep us as “customers.” The church is first here to help people come to Christ, then to help us have a spirit of blessing others.

We weren’t meant to a reservoir of God’s blessing, but a river of God’s blessing to others. God blesses us so we can bless others.

LiveSent: How to Get Unstuck

Transformed people bless others, train others, and live sent.

We can all get stuck on the “other side” of the table, living just for ourselves. Our faith becomes all about ourselves. We talk about churches like we talk about restaurants: “This is how well they served me.”

So how do we get unstuck from living for self? We live a sent life. We make our lives about serving others.

Live Better Than Living for Self; Live Sent

We can live for ourselves or live sent by God. Living for one’s self leads to a broken and empty life, while living sent by God leads to a blessed and fulfilled life.

Paul’s life is a prime example of how God transforms lives from living for self and living sent. God first rescued Paul from his selfish life, transformed it, then sent Paul into the world as an apostle. This is the pattern God uses in all of our lives.

Adversity Tests Perspective

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

James 1:2-3

The original Greek translation of the word “consider” means to evaluate or gain perspective. James is telling us that overcoming adversity requires having the right perspective. In other words, our outlook on life determines our outcome.

Interview with Hasani Pettiford

Kevin interviews Hasani Pettiford, founder of Couples Academy, on how to navigate conflict within marriage. Hasani gives us key techniques that we can focus on in marriage to solve conflict:

  • Communicate effectively in what you say, how you say it, and your body language
  • Make the Bible the final authority
  • Give up the need to have to be right

 

Guiding a Family to Solve Conflict

We can resolve conflict in family by following the guidelines God models for us:

  • There is righteousness: Discuss and determine what is right, not who is right.
  • There is unrighteousness: Acknowledge what is wrong.
  • Someone has to repent: Apologize and return to what is righteous.
  • Someone has to forgive: Absorb the loss and restore the relationship.

When we let the peace of God reign, there will still be conflict, but now we have way to solve it.

Solve Conflict

4 things that keep a family together: 

  • Build Solid
  • Build Sacred
  • Solve Calendar
  • Solve Conflict

Solve Conflict:

  1. Conflict Within
  2. Conflict In Marriage
  3. Conflict in Family
    • There is righteousness (right).
    • There is unrighteousness (wrong).
    • Someone has to repent (sorry & return to righteous).
    • Someone has to forgive (absorb loss & restore relationship).

Homework: As a couple or family, agree to solve conflict by God’s ABCD’s. Solve conflict when it comes, solve it direct, and honest. Repent and forgive and return to building solid.

Create a “Closed For Business” Sign For Your Family

Work is important, but it’s only one of the important things in life. We need to find a way to be “closed for business” for our families.

This means putting limits to work so you can do family and limits to family so you can do work.

Kevin and Marcia navigated this conflict in time between work and family by setting some rules:

  • Quitting: “closed for business” at certain times of the day.
  • Interruptions: no interruptions at work.
  • Phone: no business calls when at home.

These rules help keep both family and work important. When someone is “on”, they’re fully on. When someone is “off”, they’re fully off.

Busyness Can Crowd Out the Important

In this illustration, each of the containers represents the time in our life.

  • The sand represents the busy lesser things in life – emails, social media, Netflix, etc…
  • The little stones represent the stuff that needs to get done, but if they don’t, it’s okay.
  • The big rocks that are most important in our life; prayer, family, careers, marriages, etc..

When we fill our calendars with lesser things first, we don’t have enough time left for all the sacred things. But when we put sacred things on the calendar first, everything can fit!