Sunday, October 27, 2019

Do You Want to Make a Difference in the World?


The following are my Bible study notes based on my pastor's sermon about making a difference in the world around us.

Our scripture passage is Mark 6:30-44.  You are invited to watch, listen, and worship with us here.

If You Want To Make A Difference | October 27, 2019 | Pastor Grady Sutton from Christ Place Church on Vimeo.

In this passage of scripture, Jesus is about 32 years old.  He has been in ministry for about 2 years.  Jesus' cousin, John the Baptist, has recently been killed.  Jesus is grieving his cousin's death.  He was tired and needed to rest.  (Mark 6:31)

Have you ever needed a break?  Of course you have.  We all need a break from time to time.  Sometimes we need to take some private time away from our circumstances.  Jesus and his apostles were taking some time to step away privately after learning of the death of John the Baptist.  At this time, Jesus was already well known and it was not uncommon for crowds to gather when they recognized Him.  Even though Jesus had intended to take a break with the apostles, He was moved with compassion for the people who had gathered.  Jesus was tired but he chose to make a difference for the people in the place where He was.

Do you want to make a difference in the place where you are?

How to Make a Difference in the World

1.  Start where you are. 

Begin by caring for the people God has placed in your life:  coworkers, neighbors, etc.  We are all swimming in a sea of lossness.  You might not be a missionary in a third world country, but you live in a neighborhood and people in your neighborhood need Jesus.  Make a difference for them.

2.  Use what you have. 

The disciples told Jesus that they didn't have enough food.  Jesus said, "Tell me what you DO have."

Make no excuses.  Use what you have to make a difference in the lives of others.  Keep in mind that loaves of bread back then were more like biscuits that we eat today.

*Be sure to watch the video above in its entirety to hear my pastor's funny lunchbox story. :)

3.  Do what you can.

You might not have the resources to do Billy Graham type crusades, but you can invite someone to the table.  You can meet someone's need, small or large.  You can tell someone that Jesus loves them.

4.  Give it to Jesus.

Jesus will always do something.  Put it all in His hands.  When the apostles didn't know how to feed the people, Jesus fed them with 5 biscuits and 2 scrawny fish.

What Jesus did for the people on that day long ago, He wants to do for you and me today.

Do you have a relationship with Jesus?  He desires a relationship with you.  Then, He wants you to make a difference.

Learn more about how to have a relationship with Jesus here.  Then, go and make a difference.


Image Credit:  Eye of Ebony - Public Domain Image via Freely Photos

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Is God Always Good? (Study on the Book of Habakkuk)

The following are my Bible study notes based on my pastor's sermon titled "Is God Always Good?"  Our Scripture text is in Habakkuk, chapter 3.

You are invited to watch, listen, and worship with us here.

Is God Always Good? | Why God? | Pastor Jeff Crook from Christ Place Church on Vimeo.

We can be hopeful even in the hardest times.  This is what the short little three-chapter book of Habakkuk teaches us.  In the first chapter, Habakkuk asked the question, "Why, God?"  In the second chapter, we read about waiting on God.  Today we are in the third chapter where we will read that God is good always, even in the hard times.  

It is easy to say that God is good when things are going well, but can we still say that God is good when life crumbles around us?

As we read through Habakkuk, we see that Habakkuk's circumstances didn't change, but his heart was changed.  God doesn't always change our circumstances, but He changes us.

Read Habakkuk's prayer in chapter 3, verses 1 and 2. 
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.
Lord, I have heard the report about You and I fear.
O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years,
In the midst of the years make it known;
In wrath remember mercy. - Habakkuk 3:1-2
Now, read what Habakkuk says in chapter 3, verse 18.
Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. - Habakkuk 3:18
Habakkuk Rejoice Pendant
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Things were still bad, but Habakkuk still praised God.

Let's go back now and include verse 17.
Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. - Habakkuk 3:17-18
Habakkuk 3:17-18

We were encouraged to circle the words "Though" in verse 17 and the word "Yet" in verse 18.  If you don't have your Bible with you right now, go get it if you can.  Find Habakkuk 3:17-18 in your Bible and circle these words.  Remember them.

Let's put verse 17 within today's perspective.  It would be like a total collapse of our economy.  Even so, Habakkuk says that God is good.

I know this is not easy.  In fact, it can sometimes be really hard to say that God is good when the world around us crumbles . . . 

when we get a cancer diagnosis.
when our child rebels.
when we lose a parent.
when we lose a child.
when we suffer financially.
when we suffer a broken relationship.

The list could go on and on and on.

Is God Always Good?

How do we get to a point where we can say that God is good even in the hard times?


1.  God's grace gives us stability.   God never runs out of grace. 
The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,
And makes me walk on my high places. - Habakkuk 3:19
Why are high places important?  Remember what we said last week about the rampart?  High places can give us an advantage over the enemy. 

Suffering will either make you humble or it will make you arrogant.  Suffering will make you sweeter or it will make you sour.

God gives us "hinds feet" so that we can tread the mountains.  God uses the tough times to build our character.  Then, later on we can be thankful for the suffering because God used it for good.

Keep your eyes on Jesus!

2.  Suffering and Joy happen concurrently.

God is not only good after the suffering.  He is good during the suffering as well.

Are you facing a crises?

In God, you can have deep peace in the midst of your crisis.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. - 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
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Have you received bad news lately?

God will give you hinds feet for the struggle.

3.  We must repeat and remember.

We must remember the discipline of repeating.  Habakkuk continued to praise God over and over again even though his circumstances didn't change.  We need to repeatedly praise God even when our circumstances don't change.  We learn by repetition.  There are 4 gospels in the New Testament:  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  All four gospels tell the same story.  Reading all four gospels repeatedly help us to remember the truths taught in the gospels.  God uses the discipline of repetition to teach us life lessons and make us stronger.  

These notes that I'm typing right now are repeated.  First, I write them down in my own handwriting as my pastor preaches on Sunday mornings.  I come here later to type them into my blog.  I do this to help me remember what I'm taught.  I do this so I can come back later to reread my notes in organized groups and so that you who are reading this can benefit from them as well.  

We must remember the discipline of remembering.  We need to remind ourselves of who God is.  We need to remind ourselves of God's faithfulness.  Remember God's Word.  Remember all that God has already done for you in the past.  

Keep your eyes on God, not on your circumstances or the people you might blame for your circumstances.  

Is God always good?  YES!

Our pastor tells the stories of two different men.  Be sure to watch the entire video above to get the whole story.  The gist of the story is that one man was blesses with abundance and He praised God for His faithfulness.  The second man suffered great losses, but he still praised God for His faithfulness.  

Don't lose hope when things go wrong.

God is good all the time.

God is faithful.   

Read all posts in this Habakkuk study here.

Is God Aways Good?  A Study on the Book of Habakkuk

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Wating on God (Study on the Book of Habakkuk)

Waiting on God

Last week, we began a new series at church on Sunday mornings.  Our pastor is taking us through the book of Habakkuk.  Last week, our topic was "Why, God?"  This week, we are asking, "How long, Lord?

The following are my Bible study notes based on my pastor's sermon titled "Waiting."

You are invited to watch, listen, and worship with us here.

We don't like to wait.  However, we find ourselves waiting at a lot of places:  stop lights, on hold on phone calls, medical waiting rooms, car rider lines, grocery checkout lines, for package deliveries, at the DMV (can I get a witness?)

We probably consider waiting time as wasted time.  I know I do.  We think nothing good comes out of waiting.  However, there is great value in waiting on God.
I will stand on my guard post
And station myself on the rampart;
And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me,
And how I may reply when I am reproved.
Then the Lord answered me and said,
“Record the vision
And inscribe it on tablets,
That the one who reads it may run.
“For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come, it will not delay.
“Behold, as for the proud one,
His soul is not right within him;
But the righteous will live by his faith. - Habakkuk 2:1-4
Our pastor says, "Hold onto your ticket stub.  You will see the movie soon!"  :)

Waiting on God

1.  We learn patience when we wait.

No one really is naturally patient.  It is something we must learn.  There are two deliberate actions we must take to learn patience.

*We must be clothed in humility.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” - James 4:13-15
*We should desire patience because we grow when we are patient.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. - James 1:2-4

Patience grows us up.
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. - Romans 5:3-5
Did you know that diamonds grow from coal that is placed under intense pressure?  

2.  We gain perspective when we wait. 
I will stand on my guard post
And station myself on the rampart;
And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me,
And how I may reply when I am reproved. - Habakkuk 2:1
What is a rampart?  A rampart is a high tower.  In ancient times, it was part of the city guard wall.  It is a high vantage point which gives a better perspective of what is going on below.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. - Romans 8:18
3.  We shouldn't waste time when we wait.

Stand your watch.
Station yourself on the rampart.

In Biblical times, the one standing on the rampart was a Soldier.  Waiting is not passive.  Waiting is active obedience.

Keep serving God.

When you are waiting, don't stay away from church.  When you are in the "waiting room," don't medicate your pain with the wrong things.

4.  We show our love for God when we wait.

Do you love God for what He give you?  For what He does for you?  Or do you love God because He is God?
Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. - Luke 12:37
It is worth the wait.

Don't quit.

Be faithful.

Keep waiting.

To study Habakkuk and all the other books of the Bible, you need a Bible.  If you don't have one, this is one of the Bible's I recommend.

Read all posts in this Habakkuk study here

Waiting on God

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Why, God? (Study on the Book of Habakkuk)

We just started a new Sunday morning Bible study series.  We are beginning a study on the book of Habakkuk.  Habakkuk is one of the minor prophets.  The following are my Bible study notes based on my pastor's sermon titled "Why, God?"

You are invited to watch, listen, and worship with us here.

Why, God?

Habakkuk Chapter 1:  An Honest Conversation

We might have been in this book in the past even if we didn't know it.  How many times have we cried out the same way and asking the same questions?
How long, O Lord, will I call for help,
And You will not hear?
I cry out to You, “Violence!”
Yet You do not save. - Habakkuk 1:2
Habakkuk means to embrace and to wrestle.

Stages of Grief

1.  Isolation

Satan loves for us to feel this way. 

2.  Anger

3.  Bargaining

We bargain when we say things like, "God, if you do this, I will do that."

4.  Despair

5.  Acceptance or Bitterness

Avoid bitterness!

Habakkuk begins with gloom but it ends with glory.
Habakkuk's Complaint

Habakkuk's complaining began with things he was seeing in the world around him.

Why do You make me see iniquity,
And cause me to look on wickedness?
Yes, destruction and violence are before me;
Strife exists and contention arises.
Therefore the law is ignored
And justice is never upheld.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
Therefore justice comes out perverted. - Habakkuk 1:3-4
Habakkuk saw injustices around him.  Does that sound familiar to you?  What are some things that seem unfair in the world around you?  For me, I see children fighting cancer, couples battling infertility, family and friends battling various health issues, loss of life . . . the list could go on forever.

Habakkuk was seeing injustices in the land that he loved, the land of Judah.

Habakkuk's complaint grew in intensity.
Are You not from everlasting,
O Lord, my God, my Holy One?
We will not die.
You, O Lord, have appointed them to judge;
And You, O Rock, have established them to correct. - Habakkuk 1:12
God's answer is found in Habakkuk 1:6.
“For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans,
That fierce and impetuous people
Who march throughout the earth
To seize dwelling places which are not theirs. - Habakkuk 1:6
Habakkuk's complaint caused him to grow closer to God.

Habakkuk was upet, hurt, and venting to God, BUT Habakkuk never walked away from God.  He still embraced God.

God knows our human frailty and weaknesses.  God understands when we don't understand.  He won't turn His back on us even when we are frustrated with Him.

God's Answer
“Look among the nations! Observe!
Be astonished! Wonder!
Because I am doing something in your days—
You would not believe if you were told.
“For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans,
That fierce and impetuous people
Who march throughout the earth
To seize dwelling places which are not theirs. - Habakkuk 1:5-6
OH verse 5!  God IS working and He IS moving!

What God is doing is so great that we wouldn't believe it even if He told us!

All the bad that Habakkuk saw, God was using it for good.  God uses pain and horrible events to spread the gospel.  

Things might look bleak for you right now, but God IS working.  He is working in a way that you wouldn't believe it or understand it if He told you.  In the book of Acts, Paul quoted Habakkuk.
Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. Therefore take heed, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you:
Behold, you scoffers, and marvel, and perish;
For I am accomplishing a work in your days,
A work which you will never believe, though someone should describe it to you.’” - Acts 13:38-41
Even Jesus cried, "Why, God?"
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” - Matthew 27:46
Do you feel abandoned?  You are not alone.

God knows where you are.

God knows what you are doing.

God knows what you are going through.

God is here.

Remember that the devil will never have an honest conversation with you.  You can trust God . . . always.

Do you follow Jesus?  Here's more about how you can follow Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him. 

Read all posts in this Habakkuk study here


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