In all our own unique situations, we have issues that bring up feelings of guilt or even despair. Whether we’ve hurt people intentionally or unintentionally. Maybe we’ve been hurt ourselves and we are mourning the death of a trust or friendship. Or maybe we’ve invested everything into a dream that was supposed to fulfill us but it did not lead to joy or love, but rather this pervasive feeling of emptiness and dissatisfaction. This all leads us to the feeling of despair. A loss of hope.
Today, our question is, “How does God deal with our despair?”
We get to see that he deals with our despair by getting to the root of the issue which is the sin and evil in our lives and in our world. We’ll touch on this a bit more later, but for now, this is the lens in which we’re looking at the problem of despair.
Not all things that we trust in are reliable. You can probably think about many times where our friends let us down. Or our workplace, even our governments! And especially ourselves. How many times have you let yourself down?
This raises a question. What are we trusting in right now that might be unreliable? If I’m building my life on my success, is that good enough? If I’m building it on the hope that I’m well loved and wanted by people, is that going to satisfy me?
And I don’t think it will. I don’t think it’ll ever be enough. But there is something that can be enough.
So this is our focus today: What is a trustworthy foundation for life?
Our relationship with our parents makes such a huge difference in our lives. And so today, I want to talk about parents. And when I say parents, I’m talking about people who are FUNCTIONALLY your parents.
So most obviously, it’s usually the mom and dad who made you, but families are complex. If you got abandoned at birth and grew up with loving adoptive parents, I’m talking about your adoptive parents. Not your biological parents. Because God has given you other people to take their place. Parent-figures. You may have both!
I have 2 biological parents that love me dearly but missed out on some key moments of my life! They never gave me the talk about girls (other than stay away from them), and they never taught me to drive. But my mentor did that for me. He is a parent figure to me. So we all have parents or parent-figures that God has placed in our lives to take care of us, believe in us, teach us and love us. Before we go on, I just want to take 10 seconds to think about the people who are functionally your parents. Moms. Dad. Parent figures. God parents. Mentors. Think of their faces.
Alright, now that we have that, I want to make an observation. Most people I know do not have a healthy relationship with their parents. Because on both sides, we simply don’t know how to make these important relationships thrive, especially in families with first generation immigrants because we’re working off such different ideas, beliefs, expectations and standards. That tension is enough to destroy families!
But what can we do about it? Who can we go to for wisdom?
I think the most qualified person to look to is the one who created this whole system of families. God’s creation included the relationship between parents and children and so it reasons that HE knows the ideal design and plan for our relationship with our parents! So let’s look through the book of proverbs to see what God’s wisdom says.
One of the biggest reasons why Christianity is so offensive is because we claim to have the exclusive, absolute truth. The ONLY way to life and we try to convince everyone that we’re right and they’re wrong. And that just does not fly in our culture. It’s so narrow, it’s so close minded. We’re taught to be progressive and accepting of everything! ANd Christianity is NOT that.
But what if Jesus was right about himself? What if he is the cure to our broken world? And the only way to an abundant life? At the very least, it’s worth taking a look at.
In our passage today, Jesus makes a claim about himself and I want you to join me in thinking about it before we blindly accept it or reject it.
These past few weeks, we’ve been going through a series on love and romance. And we’ve been talking about how wonderful and beautiful love is… but as I was thinking about it this past week, love is also really weird. It makes weird things happen, like if you took a magnet to a compass and the compass just goes out of whack. That’s what love does sometimes!
Well, depends what you mean by love. So many people have different ideas about love.
There’s a love people use to describe things and food. There’s another love that is obsessive. There’s a love that only acts as a remedy for loneliness. There’s a love of convenience. And finally, a love that comes at us like a tornado and sweeps up off our feet and twirls us around and it’s the greatest feeling in the world… But just for a moment before it spits us out more disappointed than before. These all fail.
So our question today is,
Is there a kind of love that satisfies and completes us?
Some people read the Bible and they become these really gross monsters that just judge and shame other people. Or some people even use the bible to justify doing whatever they want because Jesus loves them and will forgive them. Why is that? Aren’t we supposed to come out better after experiencing God’s words?
I think the problem is, it’s easy to misunderstand what God has said in the Bible. It’s an ancient book, from a different time and culture, with a complicated story, and unusual language. But I’ve seen that when people really take the time to understand what God is saying, there’s power in his words. Power that leads to transformed lives, and God helps us to do things that we would never be able to do on our own – if we go through the trouble to understand what he’s saying.
That leads me to our main question today; How do we know we have understood God’s words?
There will be times in your life, where God places such a big issue on your heart. Things that may break your heart or people you feel so much compassion towards… But oftentimes, that thing is so big that you can’t handle it by yourself.
You can only do it working together with others. Things like fighting local injustices for vulnerable peoples. Or perhaps it’s discipling new Christians, or even figuring out how to introduce your group of friends to Jesus.
Burdens like these are so important because it’s life changing for many but they’re too big to do alone. So it’s important that you are able to influence others towards things that matter. But how do we do that?
That’s our question today: How can we influence people to action? We’ll see our answer in the story of Nehemiah.
Injustice is everywhere. It seems to have seeped itself into the fabric of our world. When we think of “injustice”, we automatically imagine the big issues like world hunger, trafficking, or corrupt multi-billion dollar corporations, and we often throw up our hands and say, “It’s too big of a problem for us to handle. Why even try?”
And the answer to that is, because God calls us to stand up against such evils.