Monday, October 1, 2018

What Kind of Goal Does God Bless?


Not every goal that you can set is a good goal.  Not every goal is a goal that God’s going to bless.  So, you want to set goals in these seven areas over the next seven weeks, you want to set these in your life, but you want to set the kind of goal that God is going to bless, God’s going to give you the power to do. 

So how do I know the kind of goal that God will bless?  Let me give you three questions.  When you get ready to set a goal you want to ask these three questions:

      1.  WILL it HONOR GOD?

That’s the first question you ask.  Will this goal honor God?  What kind of goal would honor God?  What kind of goal brings glory to God?  Any goal that causes you to trust him more, to depend on him more, to love him more, to love other people more, to serve God, to serve others, to be more unselfish.  Those are going to be good goals. 

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:20 “God paid a great price for you. [Look at the cross] So use your body to honor God.” 

Are you using your body to honor God?  Or are you using your body for pleasure, for selfish reasons?  Use your body to honor God.  Circle that. 

1 Corinthians 10:31 “When you eat or drink or do anything, always do it to honor God.”  Everything can be done to honor God.  You can take out the garbage to honor God.  You can wash dishes to honor God.  You can clean out your car to honor God.  Or your closet.  You can study for a test to honor God.  How?  By doing it with the right motive – out of gratitude.  And for the right motivation – I want my life to bring honor to God so I’m going to be the best I can be for God’s sake.

Will this goal honor God?  The Bible says this “We make it our goal to please him.”  2 Corinthians 5:9.

      2.  IS IT MOTIVATED BY LOVE?

That’s the second question you ask when you set a goal for your finances, your health, your relationships.  Is this goal motivated by loved? 

God is not going to bless a goal motivated by greed – I want to make a lot of money.  God is not going to bless a goal motivated by competition – I want to be better than that company.  God is not going to bless a goal motivated by envy.  God is not going to bless a goal motivated by greed or grief or guilt or grudges.  He’s not going to honor a goal that’s built on worry or fear or anxiety.  God is not going to bless a goal that’s motivated by materialism or by ego or by pride.

But when you set a goal out of love – God, I want to do this because I love you and I want to love other people – God’s going to honor that because it’s all about love.  Life is all about learning how to love.

 1 Corinthians 16:14 “Everything you do must be done with love.”  Everything.  1 Corinthians 14:1 “Love must be your highest goal.”  That should be the number one goal in your life – I want to learn to really love.  I want to learn to love unlovely people.  I want to learn to love the loveless and the unloved.  I want to learn to love people who are hard to love.  That’s being like God.

Why is it important for you to have goals that are based on love?  Because if you set loveless goals, you’re going to treat people as projects.  You’re going to run all over them to get to your goal.  You’re going to run over your marriage, you’re going to run over your friends, you’re going to run over other people climbing up the ladder of success.  God says, No.  You’ve got it all wrong.  It’s not about accomplishments.  It’s about relationships.  It’s about learning how to love.

      3.  WILL IT REQUIRE DEPENDING ON GOD?

Will this goal require depending on God?  Remember I said earlier, Hebrews 11:6 “Without faith it’s impossible to please God.”  If you don’t have a goal that requires faith then it’s not a pleasing-to-God goal.  Romans 14:23 “Everything that doesn’t come from faith is sin.”  If you have a goal that’s so small it doesn’t require any faith to do it, it’s a sin.  Whatever is not of faith the Bible says, it is sin.

Look at this verse, Proverbs 16:9 “We plan the way we want to live but only God makes us able to live it.”  I love that in The Message paraphrase.  That’s what we’re going to do during Fifty Days of Transformation.  You get to plan the way you want to live.  This series is to help you make the rest of your life the best of your life.  We get to plan the way we want to live.  But, it says, only God gives us the power, gives us the energy, gives us the ability to actually do it.  To make the transformation.  Why?  Because God provides the three things you must have to reach your goal. 

Three things you must have to reach your goal, three things you must have to change your life.

·         I NEED GOD’S SPIRIT TO EMPOWER ME
 
This is not something based on willpower.  It’s based on God power.  It’s not based on trying; it’s based on trusting, I need God’s Spirit to empower me.

Zechariah 4:6 says “You will not succeed by your own strength or your own power but by my Spirit says the Lord.”  I need God’s Spirit to empower me to make changes I can’t make on my own.

·         I NEED GOD’S WORD TO GUIDE ME

I need God’s Spirit to empower me; I need God’s Word to guide me.  This book, the Bible, is the owner’s manual for life.  The more you get this book into your mind, your heart, your life.  The more you read it, study it, memorize it, meditate on it, the more successful, the more fulfilled, the stronger you’re going to be in life. 

When Joshua was given the great dream of taking over the Promised Land and it was a goal that was going to take him the rest of his life, God had these words to say to Joshua.  Joshua 1:8 “Keep this Book [That’s the Bible] of the Law on your lips.  [In other words, talk about it all the time.] Recite it by day and by night, [That means memorize it so you can quote it] that you may carefully follow all that is written in it; [That’s the premise; here’s the promise] THEN you will successfully attain your goal.” 

If you ever intend to be in business for yourself you ought to memorize that verse. In fact, it’s a good verse for everybody to memorize.  Keep this book of the law in your heart.  Read it, memorize it, live it, practice it, study it. That you’re careful to follow it, obey it.]  Then you will be successful.  You will attain your goal. 

That is one of the greatest promises of success in the Bible.  That promise didn’t come from Tony Robbins or some self-help guru.  That promise comes from God.  You will successfully attain your goal.  How?  If you become a man of the Word or you become a woman of the Word, all you need to know about life is in this book right here.  I need God’s Spirit to empower me and I need God’s Word to guide me. 

The third thing I need is

·         I NEED GOD’S PEOPLE TO SUPPORT ME

You will not be able to reach your goals on your own.  I haven’t been able to reach my goals on my own.  It takes a team to fulfill a dream.  You need other people in your life.  This is why we suggest that everybody in our church family be in a small group.  You’re never going to feel like a part of our church until you’re in a small group. 

A crowd can’t support you.  But a small group can.  Three, four, five, six other people.  They can know when you’re sick.  They can know when you’re having a tough time, when you’ve had a bad day.  A crowd can’t support you but a community – a small group can.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says this            “By yourself you’re unprotected.  [That means like in a football game.  You’re unprotected.  You’re out there running down the field by yourself.  You don’t have anybody to block and tackle for you.  There’s nobody out there to protect you.  If you’re not in a small group you don’t have any block and tacklers.  You don’t have anybody that’s going to speak up for you, stand up for you.  By yourself you’re unprotected…] But with a friend you can face the worst.  [Boy!  Did I learn that this last year!] And a group of three is even better because a rope braided with three strands is not easily snapped!”  

What do you call three people meeting together?  A small group.  That’s what it is.  Jesus said “Where two or three are gathered in my name I’ll be in the midst of them.” 
 
From Rick Warren's Transformed Campaign

How Temptation Works


From Rick Warren's Transformed Campaign.
 
So let me explain to you how temptation works.  Because it always uses the same pattern.  James 1:14-15 tells us the pattern.  “Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires.  These evil desires lead to evil actions.  Then the evil actions lead to death.”  

Notice temptation is a process.  It’s not an isolated event.  A lot of people talk about like “It just caught me off guard.  It was just a one night stand.”  No it wasn’t.  There were a lot of things you gave into before you got to lowering that barrier.  Temptation is a process and the Bible describes exactly how it works. 

There’s four phases. 

Phase number one is temptation starts with desire.   

      Step number one is desire. 

If you don’t have any desire for something it’s not a temptation. 
Remember when they used to have smoking on airplanes?  It was terrible.  I heard about this guy who used to carry a card with him.  When a guy would light up next to him on the plane he’d hand the card to him said “I notice you smoke.  I chew.  If you won’t blow smoke on me, I won’t spit on you.” 
He says the lure of our desire begins inside of you.  Temptation doesn’t start out there.  It doesn’t start on tv.  It doesn’t start on the street corner.  It starts inside your mind.  It often begins with a natural desire.  Not even an evil desire.  It can begin with a natural desire.
You have a natural desire for sleep.  You have a natural desire for water.  You have a natural desire for food.  You have a natural desire for sex.  You have a natural desire to succeed in life.  These are all God given drives.  The drive to achieve, the drive for sex, the drive to breed, those are normal drives.  There’s nothing wrong with them.
 
Temptation turns a routine desire into a runway desire.  That’s what makes it bad.  It becomes more important than anything else.  It’s all you can think about.  Any desire out of control is destructive.  Fire in a fireplace can warm.  Fire on a cooking stove can cook great food.  But fire uncontrolled can burn your house down.  All of God’s gifts misused and abused will burn your house down.  Any of them will.  Sex, sleep, eating.  Any of those things.  They are good desires, good drives but misused and abused they mess you up.
 
Often temptation is an attempt to fulfill a legitimate desire in your life.  Like, “I just want to be loved (There’s nothing wrong with that) in the wrong way.” 
 
The point is it’s like steel in a magnet.  If there was no desire in me there would be no temptation.  That make sense?  So temptation doesn’t start out there.  It starts in here, in my mind – the desire.
 
      Step two in temptation it always happens this way.  Doubt.
 
What you do in doubt is you begin to doubt two things.  You doubt that God loves you and you doubt that God knows best.  Because when you start to get tempted – Did God really say…  don’t have sex outside of marriage?  Did God really say…. forgive the person instead of get even with them?  Did God really say… It’s more blessed to give than to receive?  And you start doubting God’s Word. 
 
We see this with the very first temptation.   Adam and Eve.  They’re in a perfect environment.  It’s paradise, they have no clothes and no kids.  Hello!  How do you mess up that?  Really!  Satan comes and says, “See that tree over there?  Did God really say you can’t eat of that tree?”  What’s he doing?  He’s getting you to doubt God’s word.  Then he says, “God knows if you eat of that tree you’ll be as smart as he is.”  What’s he doing?  He’s getting you to doubt that God loves you.  That God’s rules are for your benefit. 

Every time you give into temptation you are believing a lie.  You think you know better.  You think God doesn’t know best.  You think that you know what will make you happy more than he does. 
 
So there’s always the desire and then there’s the doubt.  “Did God really say?  Does God really love me?  Isn’t God being a little prudish about this?  Is it really true…” and on and on and on.
 
      Then step three is deception. 
 
The third thing that Satan does is he replaces God’s truths with his lie.  And he says, “You won’t die if you eat this!”  God had already said, “If you eat this fruit you’re going to die.”  God said you can eat anything in the whole park, Yellowstone Park called Eden.  You can eat of anything in the park except this one tree.  What does man do?  He goes immediately for the one tree.  It’s the minimum amount of temptation possible.  But it allows a choice.
 
Satan changes it all.  He says, “God says you can’t eat a bunch of stuff.  And the reason is he doesn’t want you to get as smart as he is.”  He is giving you a lie.  He is deceiving you. 
 
Any of you fishermen?  Some of you are.  The secret of good fishing is real simple.  You’ve got to use the right bait.  Salmon eat a certain kind of bait.  Trout eat another kind of bait.  Fish will even change what they’re eating, feeding on, at different times of the day. 
 
How many fish are you going to catch with a bare hook?  None.  Zero.  So obviously you’ve got to put some bait on there.  You’ve got to have a lure.
 
Question: What kind of bait does Satan use on you?  Do you even know?  Do you know the one he always uses on you?  And he keeps coming back to it because it gets you every time.  It hooks you every single time.   It may be something from a long time ago that a parent said to you.  But when that comes out you are so hooked you immediately get depressed or you immediately get angry, or you immediately get worried.  Satan goes, Got her hooked!  I put the right bait on that hook.  Satan knows your weaknesses and he hides the hook. 
 
I call this phase deception because often we know there’s a hook there but we still keep nibbling.  We know there’s a hook!  But we still keep nibbling!  It’s like people who flirt in the office.  How stupid is that?  You know there’s a hook there.  You know there’s only one way it could go – bad!  But you still keep nibbling.  You say, I’m an adult.  I won’t get hurt.  I’ll be careful.  You’re being deceived.  And there’s a lure. 
 
Anybody who has gone fishing knows that lures can be pretty flashy.  The flashier the lure the fish goes, What was that?  I’m going to swim over there.  It’s flashy.  It’s shiny.  That looks like Las Vegas!  You know what Las Vegas is?  One giant lure in the desert.  It’s shiny and it’s bright and they’ve got all you can get buffets. 
 
But you’re going to get hurt.  The poor suckers in Las Vegas… it should be called lost wages.  The next time you get tempted to go to Las Vegas just give me your money.  Give it to me.  You save the time, you save the effort, and we’ll use it for good. 
 
Temptation always looks better than it is.
 
      Step four is disobedience and defeat.
 
Disobedience and defeat.  Now we move from desire – it’s something I want; to doubt – doubt God’s Word and God’s love; to deception – I’m believing the lie that Satan’s telling me – it’s going to be okay, you can get away with it, just this once, it’s not that bad. 
 
Then you go to disobedience and defeat and now it’s sin.  What began in the mind gets translated into action and it goes like this: My attention becomes an attitude and my attitude becomes an action.  We could really spend a lot of time on this but this is how it works in the battle for your mind.
 
I’ve had guys say to me, What’s the danger of a harmless fantasy?  Are you kidding me?  It’s not harmless. 
 
Write this down:  What I flirt with I’ll fall for.  Whatever I flirt with…  it may be a cupcake – I’ll fall for.  Whatever I flirt with I’ll fall for.  I need to refocus my attention.  The Bible says that “After desire has conceived it gives birth to sin and the end result is death.”  What’s death?  The exact opposite of living. 
 
You’re free to choose anything you want in life.  You’re free to make your choices.  But you are not free from the consequences of those choices.  The moment you make that choice you are no longer free.  Because there are consequences that come to every choice.  Often unintended consequences.  What you sow you will reap and you cannot choose the behavior and not choose the consequence.
 
What am I saying?  The best time to win the battle with temptation is before it begins.  Psalm 119:112 “I have made up my mind to obey your laws forever no matter what.”  Until you come to that point you’re just going to keep stumbling and stumbling and stumbling.  I have made up my mind.  That’s a choice.  I have made up my mind to obey your laws forever no matter what. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Day 40 Thank God in Advance


 

9/20/2018

The highest form of faith is thanking God before you get an answer. You might be facing a difficult crisis right now. When are you going to start thanking God for the miracle you have been asking him for? When it’s over? Don’t wait any longer to say thank you. Say it now. When you thank God for something he has already done, that’s gratitude. But when you thank God in advance, that’s faith. Thank God for what he is going to do, even though you don’t know how he is going to do it. Sing victory songs before you see the victory.

 

 
 
Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
 
Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)
 
 

 

REFLECT

 

What did you hear?
What did God say to you as you read today's Bible passage? What word or phrase was most meaningful to you?
 

 

What do you think?
What does this passage mean to you? How does it apply to your life?
 

 

What is your prayer?
This is where you turn your thoughts into prayer. It could be a prayer of gratitude or praise. It could be a prayer of confession or a request for God's help. It's up to you. But take a minute to write a prayer of response to God.



Prepared by Saddleback Community Church

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Day 39 | The Courage to Do Nothing


 

9/19/2018

Sometimes it takes more courage to do nothing than it takes to do something. Fear says, “Don’t just stand there! Do something!” But God says, “Don’t do something. Just stand there. Relax. I’ve got this.” There must be a sign in the throne room of heaven that says, “No freaking out!” When you put your life in God’s hands, your battles become his battles. If you think you have to fight all of your battles on your own, you are going to wear yourself out. It’s time for you to resign from being the general manager of your own little universe. God has been waiting for you to calm down and get out of the way so that he can do what only he can do. Remember, he’s God, and you’re not.

 

 
 
Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s… You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you… Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
 
2 Chronicles 20:15-17 (NIV)
 
 

 

REFLECT

 

What did you hear?
What did God say to you as you read today's Bible passage? What word or phrase was most meaningful to you?
 

 

What do you think?
What does this passage mean to you? How does it apply to your life?
 

 

What is your prayer?
This is where you turn your thoughts into prayer. It could be a prayer of gratitude or praise. It could be a prayer of confession or a request for God's help. It's up to you. But take a minute to write a prayer of response to God.




Prepared by Saddleback Community Church

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Day 38 | God Is Never Overwhelmed


 

9/18/2018

God always knows what to do and when to do it. He is never stumped or puzzled by your dilemmas. God has never been overwhelmed. He has never scratched his head or shrugged his shoulders or wrinkled his brow. He has never even said, “Hmmm.” When you don’t know what to do—and even when you think you do know what to do—always turn to God in prayer. He knows what is best.

 

 
 
You would not allow us to invade their territory when we came up from Egypt; so we turned away from them and did not destroy them. See how they are repaying us ... O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.
 
2 Chronicles 20:10-12
 
 

 

REFLECT

 

What did you hear?
What did God say to you as you read today's Bible passage? What word or phrase was most meaningful to you?
 

 

What do you think?
What does this passage mean to you? How does it apply to your life?
 

 

What is your prayer?
This is where you turn your thoughts into prayer. It could be a prayer of gratitude or praise. It could be a prayer of confession or a request for God's help. It's up to you. But take a minute to write a prayer of response to God.



Prepared by Saddleback Community Church

Monday, September 17, 2018

Day 37 | Motivated to Pray


 

9/17/2018

Never let a problem intimidate you. Instead, let it motivate you to pray. Prayer must always be your first choice, not your last resort. Start by reminding yourself how great God is. Then remember what he has done and what he has promised. When you remember what God has done, it builds your faith for your current challenge. When you remember what God has promised, you can take him at his word.

 

 
 
Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, “If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.”
 
2 Chronicles 20:7-9 (NIV)
 
 

 

REFLECT

 

What did you hear?
What did God say to you as you read today's Bible passage? What word or phrase was most meaningful to you?
 

 

What do you think?
What does this passage mean to you? How does it apply to your life?
 

 

What is your prayer?
This is where you turn your thoughts into prayer. It could be a prayer of gratitude or praise. It could be a prayer of confession or a request for God's help. It's up to you. But take a minute to write a prayer of response to God.
 
 
 
 
 
 Prepared by Saddleback Community Church