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Last week we saw how God shows us how to love: unconditional, unwavering, and unceasing. How do we respond, where do we start? Jesus was clear when he affirmed the Jewish affirmation of faith, the Shema, “Love the Lord your God with all…”

Spiritual Life vs. Financial Life: What is it going to cost me?

Spiritual Life vs. Personal Life: Can I love God and have fun?

Spiritual Life vs. Social Life: Can I keep my friends?

Spiritual Life vs. Vocational Life: How does it affect my work?

Spiritual Life vs. Educational Life: Do I have to quit learning to love God?

Spiritual Life vs. Family Life: Is God welcome in my home?

Spiritual Life vs. Sex Life: Does my relationship with God stop at the bedroom?

Spiritual Life vs. Emotional Life: Does God rule my emotions?

Why should we love God first with ALL?

1. God’s handprints are on you.

Understanding the “imago dei” or the image of God. This was written long before mirrors, so the understanding of image did not mean reflection, but referred more to imprint. We know God cares because He did not simply speak humanity into existence like he did with all the rest of creation, he got intimately involved, God got His hands dirty because we are worth it, even when we don’t act like it.

2. God’s desire is for you.

3. God’s heart breaks for you.

Where are you in your love relationship with God?

Healthy?

Hurting?

Hiding?

Here is the tough truth of the day:

Whatever you hide from God’s presence is where you put yourself in God’s place.

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Getting Rid of IT

Getting Rid of the Bull

1 Kings 19; Matt. 14:25-31

Today we are going to talk about “IT.” We talk about “IT” a few times a year. If you don’t remember what “IT” is, “IT” is anything that you don’t want to talk about. The “IT” in your life you wish wasn’t there: the toxic relationship, difficult habit, secret you keep. “IT” is the thing that when it comes up you get nervous, or defensive, or evasive. No matter where you start you are going to have to deal with “IT” or “IT” will keep getting bigger. I have “IT”s, you have “IT”s, everybody has “IT” and nobody likes to admit “IT.”

Once you’ve accepted the challenged, made the decision you take action. Clarity produces certainty.

Elisha got definition about who God determined him to be. When he accepted the prophet’s cloak he knew his life would change forever.

Action: Movement toward what you really want

Direction, not intention, determines destination.

Elisha moved in a definite direction, he killed his bull and destroyed one yoke (the oxen’s) and took on another (Elijah’s mantle or yoke). Great things in our lives are rarely accidental

Alignment of time and energy Elisha made a decision; he used the plow as firewood and got rid of the bull. He chose to deal with it.

You have three choices when you are dealing with “IT.” You can fake it; fear it; or face it.

  • Fake it: pretend like “IT” doesn’t bother you or that its not there. Another version of the ostrich strategy, you are either avoiding dealing with the truth or lying to yourself.
  • Fear it: if you are afraid of “IT” you have given it the power to control your life. The waves so distracted Peter that he let them have the power.
  • Face it: the thing about “IT” is that dealing with it is less painful than faking it or fearing it once you face it.  (BTW, that’s face it, not Facebook it)

Adjustment of everything else.

Elisha had focus, he packed up and left. With the bull now bbq and the plow now kindling, he had freed up his time and energy so that he could do what was his highest and best calling for his life.

The key to focus is to eliminate the distractions, and some of the distractions are good things, but you have to let go.

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Where to Start?

Where to Start? Luke 5:1-11

Where to start truth: you can only begin from where you are. Life does not have a “Control-Z” command (undo).

Foundation:

o Jesus already knows who you are…

o Jesus already knows where you are…

o Jesus has a plan for what’s next...

Let’s look at Jesus pattern for where to start, there are three parts: challenge, decision, and action.

Challenge: every interaction with Jesus in the scripture begins with a challenge.

Decision: every time you come into contact with Jesus there is a challenge, and that challenge will require a decision.

Action: a decision without an action is worthless. Discipleship is not about what you meant to do, what you decided to do, its about what you actually do.

Three animals of decision:

o Ostrich: stick my head in the sand and hope things get better. Here is a hard truth about indecision, indecision = rejection; rejection = disobedience; disobedience = consequences.

o Hare: rush to do everything. Start fast/crash fast.

o Tortoise: clear, deliberate action. Do one thing; do it intentionally; do it methodically; make progress.

So, where do you start? By listening to the challenge Jesus has for you. Over the next several weeks we will look to see what the scripture says about areas in our life where we need a new start.

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