I have a confession to make: I'm a fan of the movie, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?". I'm not sure why I like it so much, maybe it's the music or the 1930's period piece, or the fact that it's a Coen brothers film...but whatever the reason, I like the movie quite a bit. For those of you who may not know the film, the main plot centers on the picaresque journey of three fugitive companions who are trying to get their hands on a buried treasure. During their (mis)adventures they are confronted by a series of strange characters including one of my favorite characters, a blind man, who prophetically warns the trio that "the treasure you seek shall not be the treasure you find."
I know you didn't come here for a movie review, but please bear with me. I'm just setting the table for what I hope will be a spiritual connection. Each year in the life of RSBC, we intentionally choose January for a sermon series aimed at understanding the importance of and choosing to live into the spiritual disciplines in Christianity. This year, we chose the question: What Might God Do? to be the springboard into the reality of a rich and deep relationship with Christ for those who choose to say "yes" to Jesus in their pursuit of holiness.
But there is also another reality at play in the mix as well; another question that begs to be asked, namely, what is our motivation for doing what we do?
Our Hearts are Restless:
It's true. We have restless hearts. We are often struck by the thought that we were created for far more than what we have chosen to settle for in our lives. This manifests itself in many ways, but the restlessness we feel in life is a reality for most people. But here's the catch: even our thoughts are subject to our sin nature. So, even when our thoughts rightly wake us up from mediocrity, in the same breath they often lead us no further than thoughts like, "I deserve better than this" or "If I just try harder, then I can do whatever I set my mind to."
Now please hear me clearly. There isn't anything intrinsically wrong about thoughts like these, but when these thoughts fail to elevate above ourselves or our desires, there is a problem. Why? Because we were not created to be self-dependent or self-sufficient people. Scripture makes it clear that God created man to be in fellowship with him and to fully enjoy him forever. So, in order for this spiritual wake-up-call to be effective, the restlessness we feel must also be understood rightly, so as to not lead to exchange one path of dullness for another.
St. Augustine said it like this:
"You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you."
Until we understand this reality, we will continue to find disappointment rather than delight; even in our godly pursuits. A commitment to read the Bible more frequently is hollow, if the primary goal in our reading isn't to find satisfaction in Jesus. Making a daily habit of prayer is a vain pursuit, if our aim isn't to connect with Jesus. Going to war with the sin in our lives is pointless, if the main reason for it isn't to glorify God and fully enjoy him forever.
Restlessness in or hearts does not go away simply because we are doing godly things. Rather, the "doing" is the means of grace that God gives to us in order that we might find our joy in him.
Settling for Momentary Treasures:
Which brings us back to the movie. What the blind man on the handcar tried to help the Soggy Bottom Boys understand is this: often times the treasure we seek isn't the fullest treasure we were created to enjoy.
Again, please don't hear me wrong. These desires and lifestyle choices are not the problem. The problem is the treasure that we so often settle for. We were not created to be satisfied with temporal things, even good and godly things, and our heart will continue to feel restless until it finds rest in Jesus; the fullest and all satisfying treasure.
So, as you take aim with the rest of the RSBC body to faithfully pursue God this year and as you use the question, "What Might God Do?", to find the answer...make sure that your heart and your focus are on Jesus, the eternal treasure (Matt. 13:45-46) and then fight the urge (in your flesh) to settle for anything less than him. Our Savior is not a means to a greater treasure, but is instead the most precious treasure there is!
May our restless hearts find their rest in him.
Sunday’s sermon focused on what God might do if we resist the roar of Satan’s deceptions and sin’s inward temptations.
Ice Breaker: What have been your previous, positive experiences of God working in you when you surrendered a certain area of your life Him?
READ Genesis 4:1-8.
READ James 1:14-15.
Four Roars to Resist.
Pastor Thomas presented these four temptations (or Roars to Resist) during the sermon:
1. You can choose our own way.
2. You are OK to doubt God.
3. You should be religious but not radical.
4. If it feels good you should do it.
READ 2 Corinthians 5:17-18
Ice Breaker: Have you ever had an answered prayer?
What do you think a healthy prayer life would look like for you?
If you increased your praying what do you think God might do in and through you?
What difficulties or excuses keep you from that healthy prayer life?
What will you do to overcome those difficulties or excuses?
God’s Word on Prayer
Matthew 26:36-41 (focus on v.41)
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
2 Corinthians 12:5-10
Conclude your study time with a period of honest prayer about your praying. What have you learned here that you want the Holy Spirit to “tattoo” on your memory and instill into your daily spiritual life?
Ice Breaker: Aside from the Bible what is one of your favorite books of all-time? Why?
This study will have a few “pause for prayer” segments. Don’t skip over these. The combo of honest sharing, God’s Word, and prayer has stupendous power in us.
Diving into Sermon Series "What Might God Do?"
Sermon Closing Questions: The sermon concluded by asking people to gather in pairs or triplets to answer these questions. Go through them again as a whole group (or write your answers if studying solo).
What Does the Bible tell us God Might Do?
Read the selected verses and answer these two questions: A) What does the Bible have the ability to do? B) If the Spirit worked through the Word this way in your life what might God do in or through you?
Our sermon series "What Might God Do?" launched yesterday with the aim of inspiring us to ponder "What might God do in and through me in 2017 if I seek Him wholeheartedly?" During the first sermon I offered some too-fast-to-write-down thoughts on various slides. Here they are again for your use and encouragement.
Tip and Tactics for Transformative Bible Reading
Before you read: Plan a regular time to seek God in the Word and politely slaughter intruders.
While you read: Use a reading plan, but prioritize the relationship: “I’m reading to connect with God today. Drawing near to Him is my goal.”
Close your reading: Pray and ask God to highlight one verse or one thought for you to “take away”.
After you read: Meditate until it moves you.
20 Specific Possibilities: "What Might God Do" In and Through You If You Dig Into His Word
What else have you imagined that God might do in and through you if you take up the sword of His Word? Don't imagine. Let's find out together and watch His miracles form in and through us for His glory and our joy. ~Pastor Thomas