Thrive – Going Up the Down Escalator

Life as a Jesus follower in this world is somewhat like walking up a down escalator. As long as you keep moving ahead with your commitments, you’re fine. But try to stand still…and you will find yourself moving in the wrong direction!

The book of Second Kings is about a time in Israel’s history when the escalator was moving down very quickly. During this time, there were three kings who stood out for their Thriving faith even in the toughest of times: Joash, Hezekiah and Josiah. They each have some great lessons to teach us for our tough times about the commitments we can make to keep moving ahead.

Worship Keeps Your FAITH Strong
Joash
repaired the temple in 2nd Kings 12. He rebuilt the place of worship! The place of worship must remain strong in our lives if we’re to swim upstream without being washed down or worn out.

I’m talking about more than just attending a worship service, but giving your attention to worship. Joash’s experience reminds us of a vital truth regarding keeping worship at the center of our inner lives.

We have to be willing to pay the price. It takes time…valuable time, to worship the Lord.

Your Commitments Cause Your Faith to Thrive
Hezekiah
in 2nd Kings 18 removed the “High Places,” – the places of false worship. A growing faith comes when we deal with the destructive and the distracting influences in our lives.

Look at how Hezekiah dealt with such places. He removed, smashed, cut down and broke them into pieces! There was no compromise…they were completely dealt with.

You can’t deal with “high places” with halfway measures. It takes commitment.

God’s Word is Vital to Daily Living
Josiah
rediscovered God’s Word in chapters 22-23. Even if you haven’t picked up your Bible for a while, you probably know what shelf it’s on. That’s better than the people of Israel had done. They had literally lost the Lord’s law.

When Josiah rediscovered and read it everything changed. You may need to make a rediscovery of your own…to rediscover the meaning of God’s word for your daily life.

Start reading it again as if your very life depends upon it…it does!

Family Discussion Question: Whose example do you most need right now: Joash, Hezekiah or Josiah?

Children’s Activity: Draw a picture of a fish swimming upstream (against the flow of some trash going downstream) and put your name on the fish.

Faith Always Comes Out in the OPEN

Thriving Faith is one that is dedicated to God.  What do we mean when we say dedication?  To one person it may mean giving up a part of a football game to come to church on Sunday mornings, to another it may point to a decision to begin giving some of their money to the Lord’s work, while to another it may add up to leaving all that they know to serve the Lord as a missionary in a foreign country.

“So the king and all the Israelites dedicated the temple of the LORD” (1 Ki 8:63 NIV).  What does it mean to dedicate a temple, a church, a child, and a life – to dedicate them to the Lord?  In 1 Kings 8, Solomon dedicates the great Jerusalem Temple to the Lord. In so doing he teaches us some important lessons about the character of dedication.

Dedication means I Declare Something Openly

Dedication is a public announcement of your intentions and commitments.   Many see dedication as some inner commitment that no one can really see or understand. Not true…it is expressed in public commitments and public actions. You know when dedication begins to happen? When you begin to place your faith on the line in terms of public commitments. It’s that willingness to declare to others that add up to dedication.

  • When our forefathers penned the Declaration of Independence, they turned a philosophy into a dedication to freedom.
  • When John Kennedy said, “We will put a man on the moon before the end of the decade.” He transformed a scientist’s dream into a country’s dedication.

God asks us to make “open commitments” of our faith. Baptism is an open statement that you’ve dedicated your life to Christ. Prayer is a way that we bring out into the open our dependence on God. Worship is one way that we say openly and publicly that God is important to me.

Discussion Question: When others look at your life, what do you think they would say you are “dedicated” to?

 

Thriving FAITH Takes the Pressure Off

“By faith Abraham, even though he was past age–and Sarah herself was barren–was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise.”   Heb 11:11 (NIV)

Have you made faith’s great change exchange? Have you learned to exchange life’s pressures for God’s promises? We all live in one of two ways, under life’s pressure or within God’s promises. The secret to promise living is faith…believing what God has told me in His Word about Himself and His world.

When you believe God’s promise you belittle life’s pressure. When you trust God’s promise you trample life’s pressure. When you count on God’s promise you count out life’s pressure. When you depend on God’s promise you defeat life’s pressure. When you receive God’s promise you reject life’s pressure. Is that clear? Promise and pressure are mutually exclusive…they can’t exist together.

There are two common attitudes that push the promises of God out of our lives as believers. Watch out for these! (You can see them in the life of Abraham as he struggled with believing God’s promise about sending he and Sarah a son).

I’ll have to settle for less…..or……I’ll have to get it myself

Although Abraham struggled with these attitudes, he ended up putting his faith in God. Just because you struggle does not mean that you cannot end up making the great “change exchange.”   You can be a person of genuine faith.

Family discussion question: Where do you feel pressured right now? As a family, pray for each other. Pray the promises of God over each other and allow God’s peace to ease your pressures.

Children’s activity: Show how promises “push out” pressure by filling a cardboard tube (paper towel or toilet tissue) with crumpled paper. Once the tube is filled show them how the new paper you put in always pushes out the old. sbb