Message Recap – 5/27/11 – Psalm 23:2

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Two weeks ago we started going through Psalm 23 verse by verse. Sometimes when reading a very familiar scripture it can be difficult to find fresh meaning as we read through it. But there is fresh meaning there – we just have to make the effort to find it. Ask God to show you what you haven't seen before.

So, if you missed it or just need to refresh your memory, you can read the recap for Psalm 23:1 here:

Part 1

Now on to Psalm 23:2: He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

Pastor Dan, like all of us, can tend to be shortsighted. He can look at the short term view and say, “Eh, that's close enough. That was pretty good, I think I'll call it a day.” It's easy to look at the short term. “I'm hungry now, so I'll just eat now.” “I'm too tired, I'll just do it tomorrow!”

That's a tendency that we all have, and it's especially hard for young people. At age 12, ten years seems like an eternity. Thinking about the future doesn't come natural. It's hard to make decisions with perspective and not get carried away by emotion. It's easy to say, “Eh, it's close enough!”

What does this have to do with Psalm 23:2?

Let's start in Ephesians 3:18-20 for the answer:

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

It can be easy as a teenager to shorten your goals. “I just want to get out of high school, that's it! Then I'll be happy.” But God has more for you! He has a bigger vision for your life than you have for yourself! He has infinitely more than you might ask or think for you!

Take a look at what Isaiah 55:1-3 has to say:

Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
hear me, that your soul may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.

And verses 8-9:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We can have our own thoughts about our lives, and in the process of pursuing those can easily settle for much less than what God has for us.

“Green pastures” literally means “tender shoots”. God's not leading you to a dried out, over-grown field, but to a lush paradise!

God wants to give us not just what is needed, but what is good. He doesn't want us to just survive. He doesn't lead us into just enough. No, God wants to give us what is good, not just what is necessary! He wants to give us more than we think we're worth, more than we ask or think or dream or imagine!

“Still waters” means a place that you can call home. A place where you can relax and feel at peace. God is leading you to a place where you can stay – where you can settle down with provision for your needs. There's a difference between a place to crash for a few days and a home.

We tend to underestimate God's plans for us. Your dreams are for getting your license or finding an outfit that won't get made fun of, while God has plans for you to change the world!

He has big plans for you!

Sometimes, when God is leading us to green pastures and still waters on the way we get antsy. So we take a detour on the way to green pastures and end up in dry stubble. Or on our way to still waters, we settle for stagnant marsh water. "Eh, that's close enough."

Nowhere is this principle more apparent than in the search for a spouse. One of the major issues for older teens is and young adults is who you will marry.

In that, just as in other areas, God is leading you to more than you can imagine! Yet on the way to the right person there's Mr. Close-enough or Ms. Good-enough-for-right-now. It can be very tempting to settle for that person instead of staying on the path for the green pastures and still waters that God has in store for you.

As God is leading you to the person that is perfect for you, in the timing that is perfect for you, there will be moments when you think, “Eh, that's close enough.”

This principle applies to your calling in life, it applies to who you choose as friends and it even applies to having fun.

God's plan for you is better than your plans for yourself! It's better than your five year plan, better than your goals, better than you could ever imagine! Not just in the short term – in the long term as well. He has the best for you!

When you're tempted to settle, remember God's plan for green pastures and still waters. Don't settle for just close enough or for survival – follow God's plan for your life!

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Message Recap – 5/13/11 – Psalm 23: Part 1

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

There are many verses that we as Christians know so well that they lose power because of familiarity. But they are powerful. So we are going to study one of the most famous passages in the whole Bible, one verse at a time.

Psalm 23 is positional for the most part. It's about who God is, what He's done, what He's given us and what is available to us. It's a very poetic scripture, but it has a very real, meaningful, powerful and relevant application to our lives. Sometimes it can be easy to forget that the people we read about in the Bible were just that - people. David (the guy who wrote most of Psalms) was just a guy. He made mistakes, he had hopes and dreams that he didn't see fulfilled.

We will start in the first verse, Psalm 23:1:

The LORD is my shepherd;

I shall not want.

Here's a question: what do you want? We all understand the difference between wants and needs. Things like food, clothing and shelter are needs. Love, peace, a sense of purpose, freedom and hope are deeper, emotional needs.

Then there are wants. Like a new Walkman (doesn't everyone want one?). More stuff. More junk food. A nicer car, a bigger house, the newest electronic device. We all want to win. We want success, fame and recognition.

What is God saying about want in this scripture? Is He saying it's wrong to want? That wanting something is offensive to God? Or is He saying that you already have everything that you need?

The answer is both. At different times and in different ways, the answer is both.

Check out James 4:1-3:

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

James is talking about two things. Getting jealous and scheming to get things that we want from people, and not having what we want because we don't ask for it. Wants aren't necessarily bad – God gives some of them to us to help get us where we need to go. But others are destructive.

The key to Psalm 23:1 is “The Lord is my shepherd.” The one I trust, the one who cares for me, the one I follow. My life is not based on wants or led by needs. It is led by God's guiding hand.

When you allow God to lead you, everything you need is provided and He guides you away from the wants that are harmful or ill timed.

Sometimes we think that God is just being mean or trying to deprive us of something awesome when He's actually just warning us of the dangers of life, "That's dangerous! That will burn you! Don't touch it!"

Don't buy into the lie that "You will not surely die! Go ahead and touch that, it won't hurt you." Sound a little familiar? That's what Satan told Eve in Genesis 3:4. Here's a hint: listening to Satan didn't turn out too well for her.

When you allow God to guide you, He will protect you from dangers like a parent watches over a child and keeps them from harm.

When you step outside of God's guidance you start indulging in junk. And it never satisfies! You may get tired of it, but you never get satisfied.

It's like when you eat junk food. You never get full, you just get tired of eating – yet you still keep eating! The junk of life is the same way.

When we go outside of God's shepherding and indulge in the junk food of life, there is never satisfaction or fulfillment. Lust, greed and selfishness are never satisfied.

Take a look at what Paul said in Philippians 4:11-13:

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

As Christ is leading you, you can do all things! Even when you have some needs, even when life isn't perfect, you can learned to be content through Christ.

When we allow God to guide us our needs are met. It's His promise! When we follow His plan, not our own, we find that we have all that we need. There's satisfaction and contentment. We've dropped the junk food.

When the Lord is your shepherd He will guide you to exactly the right place at exactly the right time to find all that you need. He will lead you to a good place! Trust Him!


Message Recap – 4/29/2011 – What's on Your Mind? Part 2

Thursday, May 5, 2011

This week we are continuing the the new series from special guest speaker Kris Miner. You probably remember that in our series' within a series we've already covered two things that are big battles we all face as Christians: the tongue and purity. The current series is about the battle going on in your mind.

You can catch the recap for part one here:

Part 1

Luke 15:11-32 tells the parable of the prodigal son. There's a lot of powerful stuff in that story, but we're going to focus on the older brother. The one who had it all together. He was mature. He stayed on the farm, worked hard and remained faithful. But when the younger brother came home and was celebrated he became jealous. He angrily said to his father that he had never even gotten a goat to party with. And really, who can blame him. Isn't that what we all want out of life? The father responded that the whole farm was already his!

The older son didn't understand – he didn't have a relationship with his father.

Take a look at what 1 John 3:1-2 says:

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.

Do you know that you're a child of God? Do you understand that relationship? You have access to everything He has! The older brother in the prodigal son story didn't get that. He served faithfully, growing more and more disgruntled, but he never asked for anything that was rightfully his.

Do you understand what it means to be a child of God? How much He loves you, how much He cares about you?

The Bible says that when Jesus died the veil in the temple between the holy of holies and the common area was ripped from top to bottom. What does a torn curtain have to do with us? It was symbolic, showing that we don't have to go through the high priest any longer. We can directly access God now, because of Jesus! He bridged the gap so that we could be called children of God! God wants you to know that you're His children. You're not slaves. You serve because you have a relationship with the Father and love Him.

Jesus was once having a conversation with the Pharisees. They were the religious people of the day – they did everything right, followed all the commands to the T. But they were missing something vital – they didn't know the Father!

As Christians we can do all the right things. Go to church, not curse, stay in school, steer clear of sin. But it's not enough. Yes, you need to obey the 10 commandments. But that's not enough; you have to have a relationship with God.

Do you talk to God? Do you pray? Do you find yourself thinking about Him throughout your day? Or picking up your Bible and reading it? Do you take time to hear what God has to say to you?

If not, you should try it. It's important for us to have a relationship with God. It's important to know our Father, as children of God.

If you want to get to know God a bit, a great place to start is the Bible. It's like a glimpse of Him – it doesn't contain Him, but it gives a glimpse. If you really want to know Him, the best place is on your knees. Spend some time talking to God, pouring out what's on your mind, and take time to listen to what He has to say to you, too.

Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the most often quoted scriptures in the Bible. But most people stop before verses 12-13. Check out Jeremiah 29:11-13:

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

God has a plan for you; He wants to prosper you; He has a future for you; He wants to give you hope! But the next two verses are extremely important. Seek God. Find the Father's heart. Seek to know God. You are a child of God. He wants to have a relationship with you!

Be purposeful in your relationship with God. Spend time talking to God and reading the Bible. Not just to ask for things or fulfill your duty, but to have a conversation with Him, to know Him.

Don't just be religious; build your relationship with God today!


Message Recap – 4/22/2011 – What's on Your Mind?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tonight we get to hear from special guest speaker Kris Miner. You probably remember that we've already covered two things that are big battles we all face as Christians: the tongue (what we say) and purity. Now we're going to talk about the battle going on in your mind. Will faith win, or will fear win out? We all face this battle, and it's a tough one. Though we all have different fears, we all have to fight them.

So what are people afraid of? The number one fear of most people is public speaking. Followed by death. Others include cockroaches, spiders, snakes, the unknown, being alone, failure, rejection, and other people.

So, what does the Bible have to say about fear? 2 Timothy 1:7 says, For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

God has called us to live by faith. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says that we live by faith, not by sight. What exactly is faith? Hebrews 11:1 says, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Need a simpler explanation? Faith ultimately comes down to two things:

1. Believing that the Bible is true.

2. Believing that God is going to do what He said He was going to do.

So, what does the Bible have to say about spiders, snakes and cockroaches (which many people fear)? They qualify as creeping things which we have been given dominion over. We don't have to be afraid of them!

The number one fear, public speaking, is something that Moses also feared. But God promised to help Moses speak – he didn't have to be afraid, and we don't either!

People are afraid of being alone. “OMG, I'm 14 and I don't have a boyfriend yet!” If we look in God's work, it tells us, “Never will I leave you nor forsake you.” God's word is true, and He's gonna do what He said He's gonna do!

People are afraid of death. Some people won't even leave their house because they are afraid of dying. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.

Death has been swallowed up in victory! The sting of death is sin. If you're walking with God, you're not walking in sin. You don't have to fear death, because when you die you will go to heaven.

People are afraid of the unknown. What school should I go to? Who should I marry? Should I wear the pink shoes or the white ones?

Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

God has a plan for you! His word is true and He's gonna do what He said He's gonna do!

People are afraid of failure. They're afraid of rejection, afraid of people. This is what keeps us from living as bold Christians. But God has called us to live by faith, not fear. We are called to make a difference and not to blend in with the background, but often we are afraid to stand out and be different.

Living in fear keeps us from living boldly.

Isaiah 55:11 says:

It is the same with my word.

I send it out, and it always produces fruit.

It will accomplish all I want it to,

and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

Notice the strong words used in that verse. Always, all, everywhere. God's word is powerful. If accomplishes everything He wants it to and produces everywhere He sends it!

Take a look at what Proverbs 29:25 has to say about being afraid of people:

Fearing people is a dangerous trap,

but trusting the Lord means safety.

You have no reason to be afraid of people, of what they think, of rejection, of failure. God's word is true! He's in control and He's gonna do what He said He's gonna do!

Check out the ultimate encouraging scripture, Psalm 23 (click to read).

Even when you're overwhelmed by circumstances, God is with you. He's providing for you, leading you, guiding you, protecting you. He gives you more than you need!

God has good things in store for you; don't let fear win the battle in your life. Be someone that lives by faith. Be someone who, when trial comes, chooses to believe the word of God.

God is on your side! He's working for you!

God's word is true. He's going to do what He said he's going to do.

You have a future and a hope. God has a plan for you. Walk in faith. Don't let fear stop you. Don't be afraid of men, of rejection, failure, spiders, werewolves, zombies, clowns or anything else! God is with you, His word is true! He's gonna do what He said he was gonna do!