River of Life Church
“A BETTER WAY TO LIVE # 1”
January 2, 2022
Main Scripture Reference(s)
Hebrews 12:1-3

“A BETTER WAY TO LIVE # 1”

January 2, 2022 / Hebrews 12:1-3

“A BETTER WAY TO LIVE!”

Text: Hebrew 12:1-3

Make 2022 your best year ever! There is a better way to live, than how we have lived in the past.

-God has a better way for us to do life. If we are going to live a BETTER WAY, most of the time we have to stop something in order to start something. Stop before we start. Change before we begin.

ILLUS.: Most understand that we should be taking care of our bodies. Yet at this time of the year, it has not been easy. The precious people of God have blessed my soul with pies, cakes, cookies, candy, and all sorts of delicious eating.

-I have done my best to start this year, to put the right things into the temple of God because it has been hard. Just 6 days ago, I looked in the refrigerator and there was another pie. Chocolate no less. Beautiful Marange on top. I have tried my best to give away pieces of that pie because I knew the voice of that seductive spirit would speak at inopportune times of the night. In the middle of the night…” come, my friend, come, let us share time together.”

-If a pie is in the refrigerator, it is hard to live right. If I am going to live right this year, I have to stop living wrong. I can’t start eating right till I stop eating wrong.

POINT: Some things in life, you have to stop before you start something else.

Text: Hebrew 12:1-3

As we are embarking on a Brand-New Year, I am going to ask you to ask yourselves some questions, and possibly evaluate your walk with God.

Q-Are you the kind of Christian that you want to be?

Not the mother, father, sister, brother, mom, or dad you want to be. Are you the Christian that is really living the way you want to live for Jesus Christ? Q-Is your life where you want it to be? Most people ask questions about their lives from time to time.

-20’s -What do I need to do in order to get where I need to be?

-40’s –What do I need to keep doing in order to get where I want to be?”

-60’s – How in the world did I get here?

-70’s -Where in the world am I now?

Q-What is it that we want? What is it that God wants from us?

Q-Are you pleased with your life? If you are pleased with your life, is God pleased with your life?

-If you believe that God is not pleased with your life, then you need to check your pleasure level.  Asking ourselves these questions is important to LIVING A BETTER WAY.

POINT: Are you the kind of Christian that you want to be. Are you pleased with your life, and the most important question: “Is God pleased with your life?”

Are we start this new year, I want to encourage you to look at the STEWARDSHIP of your life. (Careful management of things entrusted to one’s care) Stewardship is way more than our monetary resources. It is our time, our talents, our Missional Focus in life. There is more to Life than our fiduciary resources.

A good question is, “How are we doing, stewarding our life?”  

POINT: Stewardship is an INSIDE JOB before it is an OUTSIDE JOB.

In this Sermon Series, “A Better Way to Live.” We will discuss living better Spiritually, Emotionally, Mentally, Financially and in every way.” It is changing gears, getting our gear shift to move from 1st gear to 2nd, or just throwing the clutch in and wind that gearbox all the way.. (Dated myself…young people are saying, “What’s a clutch.”

-Some people are in Park, and you need to get moving. Some people may even be in REVERSE. Some people need to get out of the car and change the altitude and attitude of their life IN ORDER TO LIVE A BETTER WAY.

-IN ORDER TO LIVE A BETTER WAY, THERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU HAVE TO STOP.

1. YOU HAVE TO FORGET YOUR BAD MEMORIES. Hebrews 12:1

-Those who grew up feeling that you were never good enough struggle with bad memories. You must forget your bad memories. Philippians 3:13-15 Recognizing the voice of the Holy Spirit is a BETTER WAY TO  LIVE.

ILLUS.: Many TN VOL Fans had to pray that prayer on Thursday afternoon. Steeler fans had to pray when KC gave them a smackdown.

I press for the upward call of the prize in Christ Jesus. Paul is telling us…I haven’t done a lot right, but 1 thing that I have done right is… “I forget what is behind me.” They are not at the forefront of my mind. I don’t think about it.”

-Can you imagine how difficult, it would have been for Paul to preach if he didn’t forget what was behind him? [He was stoned, beat, whipped, thrown overboard, put in prison].

-A lot of it was political.  If he thought about persecution every time he preached faith, he would have never been able to preach the faith. You must press on by forgetting what lies behind, (It is a snare, it is a weight) You must press on to the things that are in front of you. FORGET: You longer care, it is disregarded, it is not referred to.

ILLUS.: Whenever people tell the same stories about HURT. They are not well. They are rehearsing their hurts. They will say, “All I am fine…really, I forgive them…” [No you’re not well, and no you haven’t forgiven them]

STATEMENT IN THE KINDEST WAY POSSIBLE:

“IT DOES NOT MATTER, WHAT WAS DONE TO YOU, WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU; IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT PEOPLE HAVE DONE TO YOU, IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW MISUSED, MISTREATED, MISUNDERSTOOD YOU WERE UNLESS YOU LET IT MATTER.”

-Get it out – put it away – What has happened to you is not who you are. You will never possess the best God has for you holding onto the pain of your pain, the shame of your past, or the problems of your past…

-The humiliation, discouragement, failures, inconsistencies. THERE IS A BETTER WAY TO LIVE! LET IT GO!

-In order to do that – you will have to do a couple of things.

2. YOU HAVE TO FORGIVE OTHER PEOPLE.

This is step #1. You have to ask God for his help in this area.

Vs. 1, “The sin that so easily ensnares us.”  Non-forgiveness of others is the #1 sin of the world and the church.

ILLUS.: Every so often, I will get a phone call, a text message, or an email about something that somebody doesn’t like in the church. I don’t read anonymous letters. If people can’t sign their name to them, I will make a warm cozy fire out of them.

-Often – these questions are filtered through a hurt. I have learned that it almost always has nothing to do with me, but something that is going on inside of them. I have noticed that many will allow anger to root in their hearts. Down the road 12 months, 36 months, even 5-7 years later they are still talking about it.

YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME – GET A LIFE.

-Unforgiveness will create a grieving of the Holy Spirit in your life. You will not live in victory. You won’t be happy.     People say, “I just can’t get close to people anymore because of what happened.” (You have a bigger problem than the person who hurt you. Ephesians 4:30

-That guy needs to really get it. That guy needs to be locked up….do you know what they did 5 years ago? Do you know what they were involved in? -THAT GRIEVES THE HOLY SPIRIT. Proverbs 24:17-18

IT ALSO GRIEVES MY HEART AS A PASTOR. There are some who believe that God has called them to be the judicial police, and sentence people to an emotional, mental and spiritual jail because of what they did forever.

-God doesn’t care who you are-He just wants to heal you. I don’t care you are, I just want to see God heal you. I will walk with you, I will help mentor you, I will teach classes for you to grow. If someone tries to remind you of what God has already forgiven you of, and they hang it over your head… “I have known them a long time.…..”

-That is not the Vision of River of Life….It is not my heart as a senior pastor. We believe that God heals, He forgives, He changes, He renews, He delivers, and He allows you to move on from your past memories.

THAT IS A BETTER WAY TO LIVE!

-I will accept you as you are……but I will believe God that by His Grace you will change…and I will push you to change.

32 “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

You cannot walk in the anointing when you grieve the very spirit that anoints you. You cannot treat people like trash and expect to get anything out of worship.

-Walking with bitterness, wrath, anger, [i]clamor, and evil speaking will dimmish God’s presence in your life.

-You grieve the Holy Spirit when you won’t forgive someone else.

Grieving the Holy Spirit hinders and limits one’s ability to be encouraged by the Holy Spirit because you won’t forgive someone.

           “If we won’t or can’t forgive someone else, then God can’t forgive us.”   Jesus said, Matthew 6:                   “Forgive us our debts as we forgive others their debts.”

I am convinced a lot of people can’t get past their past because they won’t forgive others. They can’t move forward because they are restricting the movement of God in their lives by holding people HOSTAGE for a wrong committed.

ILLUS.: -You don’t know what they did. It doesn’t matter. Forgive.

-The Prayer that Jesus taught us to pray: “OUR FATHER…won’t work if you don’t forgive.

-Eventually, the Holy Spirit will turn us over to our own prison of bitterness if we don’t deal with this stuff.

-You will imprison your soul and limit your life, your relationships, and your ministry by holding on to unforgiveness.

-To a greater extent our nation has embraced unforgiveness as a way of life, to a lesser extent the church has embraced unforgiveness as a cultural part of how we do relationships.

-STOP letting people who have hurt you control your future, stop letting people who have deceived you caused you to stop believing in yourself. Abused, misused, confused..…or whatever. You will not get people out of your mind unless you forgive them from your heart.

FORGIVENESS: Forgiveness is not the same thing as trust.

-Abusive Man: “You have to forgive.” She doesn’t have to let you back in the house.  Trust is different.

-Jesus Christ trusted God and tested men. Some people are so spiritual that they test God, and don’t trust people.

-If you want to find out if you can trust someone – Give them a test.

RULE #1- TRUST GOD, TEST PEOPLE. We do it with our young kids all the time.

ILLUS.: Someone who has been abused his wife, and has been mean to his children. How long should you test them? At least 9 months. It takes a while to grow FRUIT.

-You have to learn how to deny yourself, serve God, get into counseling, and then we will think about it.   If they prove themselves then you can trust them.

-However, people can’t use this TRUST thing to blanket unforgiveness, and give themselves an excuse to manipulate people into eternal guilt for something that God in Christ has forgiven them for.  Revival won’t come with unforgiveness. You might have 3-4 nights of excitement, but unless the heart is rendered and torn and rebuilt by the Holy Spirit…….then…   If we forgive people: We are oblivious to what they did, they are not on my mind.

This means we are not talking about them.

3. YOU HAVE TO FORGIVE YOURSELF.

I know people who are great at forgiving others, but they beat themselves up all the time. They never forgive themselves because they don’t process their own failures or their guilt correctly. Misplaced Guilt happens to most of us at some time in our lives. It is a reaction that one accepts the blame for an event that was out of their control. … Carrying feelings of misplaced guilt can cause depression and anxiety

Some people BURY their guilt.

People stuff their bad decisions down inside, and instead of it being processed, it creates a festering heart and a festering spirit.

-Unprocessed guilt causes your mind to become enraged, deranged, and your focus becomes completely off-kilter. You see, but you don’t see. You hear, but you don’t hear. Repressed guilt or deferred guilt must be dealt with.

Some people MINIMIZE their guilt:

“Well, what I did wasn’t that bad.” My wrong today is not as bad as the wrong inflicted upon my friends.”

-Grandma used to say: “2 Wrongs don’t make a right.” You can’t minimize guilt nor can you minimize wrong. Well, it’s not that bad. Compared to what? Something may be under the blood in your life, but it may not be under the blood in someone you did something to’s life.

Some people RATIONALIZE their guilt:

-I’m not nearly as bad as: “So and so.” The only reason that I am doing this is because of the wrongs someone did to me. BLAME GAME, THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT. We never get our models from the world, from media, or from TV. Athletic stars who are not much more than millionaire thugs with a talent.

Comparing yourself to a dysfunctional, maladjusted, broken life will never give you self-confidence.  Our model is Christ Jesus crucified. We always compare what we did to Jesus. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Some people will medicate their guilt.

-Whenever people improperly process their past, they BURY IT, THEY MINIMIZE IT, THEY RATIONALIZE IT, and EVENTUALLY, THEY MEDICATE IT. People use things to things to knock the anxiety off, the shame off, the depression off, the loneliness off. Drugs, Alcohol, Entertainment, Recreation, Sports, Materialistic Possessions to escape the reality of guilt. 

-People are trying to find a way to get away from that bad feeling. But when you walk too close to the CREEK BANK, you eventually slide right in.

-Many times what people use to solve a problem becomes a problem. Anything that is a substitute for God, anything that is a substitute for Jesus or the Holy Spirit in your life will ultimately cause you to have a false sense of relief. It will not hold water, you won’t be refreshed, you won’t be renewed. STOP USING YOUR GUILT AS A REASON WHY YOU WON’T SELL OUT WITH GOD. I’m looking for some people who want to place all the confidence, all their faith in what God wants to do.

FORGIVENESS FROM GOD IS GRACE. FORGIVENESS FOR OTHERS AND

FROM OTHERS IS ALWAYS CHARITY. FORGIVENESS FROM SELF IS WISDOM.

To forget your past, you have to forgive other people, you have to forgive yourself, and you have to consciously forget bad experiences and memories. You cannot change your past. 1 word, 1 deed. People’s opinions.

-Rather than living your life in the past…live your life in the present, live your life on the upward call of Christ Jesus. You can live your life on the goal, and you can take every thought captive into the obedience of Jesus Christ, which is where spiritual warfare takes place. We must focus on the future and impacting our world for Jesus Christ.

-We have to choose to live in the present and not the past. Let go of bad experiences, forgive others, forgive yourself because THERE IS A BETTER WAY TO LIVE!

4. YOU HAVE TO FINISH THE CLASS.

-So many lose their hope. They lose their passion for life and ministry. God has been good to you. God has provided every Spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. Eph. 1 We have to learn to use our HOPE when we don’t feel like it when we don’t want to when everyone tells us to give up when the devil tells us to throw in the towel. Romans 5:5

-Hope doesn’t disappoint. Disappointment squeezes the very hope out of you. Once bitterness roots in your heart, it will destroy ANY HOPE LEFT INSIDE OF YOU. The more bitter and pouty people become, the more HOPELESS they become.

RULE #2- FORGIVE AND FORGET.

Once you lose hope in God, hope in others; you lose the very thing that you need to get you through life. Why would you lose it? Hope does not disappoint.

ILLUS.: People say well I have faith. If you don’t have hope, you won’t have faith.

“Faith is the substance of things HOPED FOR. Without HOPE, there is no Faith.”

-A lot of people in this world have lost their hope. Without Hope, there is no direction for your faith. Hope doesn’t fail, because we serve a God that doesn’t fail. Hope doesn’t fail because we know the calling of God upon our life. I don’t know what to hope in?  (HOPE IN JESUS)

ILLUS.: HYMN My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name
On Christ the solid rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand. When darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.

-When the apostles saw Jesus crucified, they lost their hope. But He did come back on the 3rd day. Jesus didn’t fail, they allowed their HOPE LEVEL to fail. Rather than walking by what HE said, they lived by what they saw.

WE HAVE TO BUILD OUR FAITH ON THE WORD OF GOD, NOT LIFE EXPERIENCE. Hope built on life experiences is a Roller-Coaster. There are ups and downs, trials, mean people, pouty people, moody people. THIS IS A CLASS YOU HAVE TO FINISH -I WANT TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO FINISH THIS CLASS IN 2022.

-Many people who have known the Lord for 20 years are not 20 years old in the Lord. -They are 4 years old repeating the same 5 years over and over again. Some have been in church for 30 years, but their maturity level is like a 1-year-old in the Lord in some cases 6 months in the Lord. You have to stay the course. Life is full of lessons. Life is full of opportunities to learn.

Hebrews 12;2, “Looking unto Jesus, the [a]author and [b]finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

WE MUST AFFIX OUR GAZE UPON THE LORD!

  1. YOU HAVE TO FORGET YOUR BAD MEMORIES.
  2. YOU HAVE TO FORGIVE OTHER PEOPLE.
  3. YOU HAVE TO FORGIVE YOURSELF.
  4. YOU HAVE TO FINISH THE CLASS.

Vs. 3 -“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”

Philippians 2:5; Hebrews 5:36 Don’t throw away your confidence.

-If you never deal with bad memories, if you never deal with forgiving others, if you never deal with forgiving yourself – You will never finish the class, you will grieve the HOLY SPIRIT. THERE IS A BETTER WAY TO LIVE!

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