Sermon Notes

Pressure Points: Weathering the Trials

Pressure Points: Weathering the Trials

Dr. Conway Edwards, Lead Pastor

Bible References: James 1:1-8

When tension builds, character is built.  The book of James offers us a step-by-step guide on how to handle problems when they show up in our lives through our faith.  These five chapters provide important guidance for achieving God’s purpose.

  • James Chapter 1 = Trials…problems that “test” our faith
  • James Chapter 2 = Favoritism…dangers of personal bias and faith without works
  • James Chapter 3 = Tongue…taming our “pink tornado” and seeking God’s wisdom
  • James Chapter 4 = Conflict…problems with “worldly standards” vs. living by God’s standard
  • James Chapter 5 = Money…materialism vs. stewardship

We are reminded that trials will come.  They come in varied sizes, level of intensity, and length of time to endure.  By asking God for wisdom and seeking understanding about what He is working in our lives we will continue to grow.  Our relationship with God will continue to be fortified by our faith in Him.  Resist the desire to ask God, “why” He’s created this trial. Our doubts expose wavering faith; that is the attribute of a “double minded” person.  Our response to trials demonstrates our faith.  Trying to remove the trial merely prolongs the life lesson God has for us.  Understand that:

1. Trials are inevitable

2. Trials are unpredictable

3. Trials are varied (e.g. in intensity, length of time, size)

4. Trials are purposeful (God provides the experience that will mature our faith)

Trials are meant to accomplish three things:

1. Purify our faith…trust that God is up to something great

2. Fortify our patience…God desires a mature body of believers

3. Sanctify our character…God wants perfection and completeness in all His parts

Use these discussion questions with your friends and family as you work together to fortify your understanding and application of the book of James:

  • Practically, how can we never waver in faith that our prayers will be answered? (Consider the difference between God answering prayer and Him hearing prayer)
  • What is meant by –  “praying in faith”? (Consider what happens when we are “double minded”)
  • Share three practical ways in which you are going to follow the guidance in James 1:1-8
Chemistry: Preparing For The Crisis

Chemistry: Preparing For The Crisis

Dr. Conway Edwards, Lead Pastor

Bible References: Matthew 7:24-27; Matthew 18-21; Ephesians 5; Romans 12:1-2; Isaiah 43:1-3; Philippians 4:11 & 13

Preparing for a crisis in relationships is the key to long-term success.  Matthew 7:24-27 tells the story of the wise and foolish builders.  The wise person built his “house on the rock” – the “rock” of God’s word. The foolish person will experience the same issues, but their lack of preparation will lead to their house falling “with a great crash” negatively impacting all who are connected to them.  Matthew 7:24 reminds us that there are three critical things to prepare for to ensure success in our relationships: the falling rain, the floods that come, and the wind that blow.

“Falling Rains” speak to our culture.  Popular culture would have us believe that celibacy or monogamy is boring.  It promotes the ideas of:

1.     Humanism: the “me” mentality; what I want is more important than God.

2.     Materialism: I deserve to have everything I want – “keeping up appearances”.

3.     Hedonism: the want to fulfill physical desires

To counteract this mindset we cannot “conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2). Set a standard that consistently says, “I will not succumb to the world’s thinking and living.”

Floods coming represent crises.  Every marriage will experience a challenge, whether that’s the death of a child, unwanted pregnancy, major illness, unemployment, incurable disease, financial hardship, etc.  Are you prepared to handle it together?  The foundation of your relationship will be challenged by the “floods” that hit your relationship.  We look to Isaiah 43:1-3 for God’s guidance in securing the foundation of our relationship.

1.     Do not fear, God has a plan designed to make you stronger.

2.     Relax, God is with you.

3.     God is in control, so you can celebrate in your adversity recognizing He has the reins.

Winds blowing represent the change that will occur in you and your spouse.  You cannot allow the outward appearance of a person to drive your decision when choosing a mate. During the duration of your relationship you will both change emotionally, physically, and possibly mentally. Philippians 4:11-13 holds the key for us as we build our plan for a strong foundation in our relationships.

1.     Contentment – learn to be satisfied and content with God’s provisions; nothing will control you but Christ.

2.     Flexibility – be open to where God may direct you

3.     Faith – Trust God and recognize that you “can do all things through Christ who strengthens [you].”

Are you prepared for successfully weathering life’s storms? What is your relationship built on – solid rock or sinking sand?

Chemistry: Reasons People Get Married

Chemistry: Reasons People Get Married

Dr. Conway Edwards, Lead Pastor

Bible References: Matthew 22:35-40

Two important statistics that could help you make and keep a God inspired decision about your relationship:

  1. On average, 1 out of 2 married couples get a divorce: 50%
  2. However, of couples that pray together, only 1 in 10,000 get a divorce

To ensure your relationship achieves success, first be honest about and aware of why you chose your mate. Do not allow the stresses you experience to be greater than the reason you chose to get married.

Each of the reasons below that can be the basis of a person getting married lead to the one in two, 50% that get divorced.

  • Share the money – You have more financial together than apart
  • Aging – Fears about…the “biological clock” (i.e. I want a baby); being alone; professional image
  • Soul-mate – You “feel” in love, which drives the “feeling” that the person is your true match
  • Parental “fix-up” – My mother or father recommended the person
  • Physical attraction – The person looks good; they fulfill the image you have of the “right” looking mate
  • Share life – You want to create a life together with the person
  • Rebound – Your former boyfriend or girlfriend gets married, and you want to show them you’re still wanted by others, so you marry the next person

To overcome these reasons and achieve lasting success in your marriage you must be attentive to four “P’s” – purpose, pride, pattern, and prayer.

  1. Have one purpose: What is the purpose of marriage?  To bring God glory.  He wants us to demonstrate what the trinity looks like when we are selfless in serving each other. The test of every marriage’s integrity is its survival despite life’s stresses.  Ask yourself if you got married for you or to display God’s glory. We show the world what marriage looks like when we don’t get our way but we pour on the love.
  2. Bridle your pride: Fundamental problem – our pride.  Life happens and we select what is pleasing to us vs. what God wants. We must recognize that we exist to please the ones He has blessed us with.  Once in Christ, we no longer exist to please ourselves. The same way we measure satisfying our self is the same way we should measure satisfying others.
  3. Change the pattern: Marriage requires recognition as individuals and as a unified couple that our purpose is to glorify God. We have three functions: spiritual – our relationship with God, soul – how we relate to others, body – how we relate to the world. Our decisions must come from God being our priority. God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him.
  4. Pray together:  If you do one thing, it is to invite the Lord to cover your union.  Keeping God as the focal point in your lives provides the scaffolding to support and strengthen your marriage.