OUR GOD IS RELENTLESS
Here are the notes for my teaching at the Cornerstone Church on Sunday, June 3, 2018. I only spoke briefly. My co-teacher was Mark Lauzon and he gave most of the talk.
OUR GOD IS RELENTLESS
Part 4 of CHAPTER ONE. Ezra 1.
Peter Foxwell. The Cornerstone Church. June 3, 2018.
Question: Does God give us second chances? I was thinking about this on Thursday and I came to a conclusion: No, he doesn't give us second chances or third chances. NO! Actually, God gives us a million chances and if that's not enough, he gives us a million more.
The message of the cross is this:
"The blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin" - 1 John 1:7.
All our sins. Yesterday. Today. Forever. You can't out-sin God's forgiveness.
We see this principle illustrated in Ezra chapter 1. God sent Judah into exile. They had broken covenant with him a million times and he warned them over and over but nothing changed. So, he sent them away to Babylon.
Things looked really bad. And things might look really bad in your life too. But God is relentless. His relentless grace means there is always hope. He did not give up on Judah and he won't give up on you.
GOD IS RELENTLESS: THE PROMISE
Before he sent the people into exile, God promised them a fresh start.
The original promise is found in Deuteronomy 30:1-5.
(Jeremiah 29:10-14) This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place (see Deuteronomy 30:3-5). 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.
GOD IS RELENTLESS: THE PROVISION
After 70 years in exile, God provided a second chance.
(Ezra 1:2-3) "The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. 3 Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord."
The Bible tells us that there is no need to live in defeat. There is no need to live in shame and guilt. There is no need to pretend or hide or fake it. God's relentless grace means we can start fresh a thousand times a day:
(Romans 5:20) Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.
(Romans 5:20) When it's sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. (The Message)
There is always more grace at the cross of Christ. More forgiveness. More love. More help. More freedom.
GRACE, FRESH STARTS, AND PORNOGRAPHY
Many of us need a fresh start in the area of sexual purity. There is a pornography epidemic fueled by the internet and many people are trapped in it.
I've asked Mark Lauzon to bring us some hope for freedom and a new beginning. Mark is a Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in helping his clients find freedom from sexual addiction. Please give him a warm welcome.
INTRODUCING MARK LAUZON, MA., LPC.
Counselor at Renewal Christian Counseling Center in Port Huron & Mt Clemens. A Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Mark specializes in addiction & substance abuse, but has a specific passion for reaching those held hostage to pornography and sex addiction, as well as helping restore relationships strained by sexual sin.
THE TRUTH ABOUT PORNOGRAPHY
The Facts: Pornography in America
40 million Americans are regular visitors to porn sites.
Every second $3,075 is being spent on pornography and 28,256 internet users are viewing porn.
In the US, internet porn pulls in $4 billion per year.
2.5 billion emails per day are pornographic.
25% of all search engine requests are pornographic related; that’s 68 million a day.
35% of all internet downloads are pornographic.
Porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined.
It’s not just a male issue, 1 in 3 porn viewers are women.
There are 116,000 searches for “child pornography” every day.
The average age at which a child first sees porn online is 11.
Mobile porn is the fastest growing segment of pornography and is expected to exceed $3 billion annually by 2019.
The Need: Christians Need Victory Over Pornography
64% of Christian men and 15% of Christian women view pornography at least once a month (compared to 65% non-Christian men and 30% non-Christian women.)
21% of Christian men and 2% of Christian women believe they may be “addicted” to pornography compared to (10% non-Christian men and 4% of non-Christian women.)
NINE PRINCIPLES OF FREEDOM FROM SEXUAL SIN
GOD. He is not surprised by your sexual sin. Jesus embraces everyone who comes to him for help. He wants to deliver you from addiction to pornography and he can do it.
HOPE. You can enjoy healthy relationships with God and people.
POWER. Change is a process empowered by three gifts of grace: (1) the promises of God, (2) your union with Jesus, and (3) the never-ending work of the Holy Spirit.
GOALS. Work to do three things: (1) Admit your behavior - bring it into the light, (2) identify the heart-causes of the behavior - the roots, and (3) ask God for help.
PROGRESS. Do not measure your progress by perfection. Progress is step-by-step over time. Four steps can be measured: (1) Choosing a new direction for your life - deep repentance, (2) fighting your temptation - deep commitment, (3) turning to Jesus for cleansing and forgiveness, and (4) reaching out to a trusted friend for help.
HEART. Your struggles with pornography are symptoms of deeper heart-struggles. To finally find freedom, you must reflect on the sin patterns (ways of believing, thinking, feeling) in your heart and how they got there. For this, you will most likely need the help of a pastoral or biblical counselor.
CHRIST. Remember: God has the resources you need to get free. At the cross, Jesus broke the mastery of sin and death over your life. Through faith in Jesus, you receive a fresh start and and resurrection power for a new life. So ... go to God. Ask for help.
GRACE. When you fall down, go to God. No matter how many times you fail, he will receive you (see Romans 8:31-39). Put your hope in the gifts of the justification, forgiveness, and cleansing Christ gained for you at the cross. Turn away from yourself, from your guilt, shame, frustration, and self-condemnation. Cling to grace: (Romans 8:1) "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
PROMISES. Memorize the promises of God and claim them when you are fighting temptation. The promises about your new identity, new life, and new relationship with God are very powerful weapons in your struggle. For example: Romans 8:26-39 and Ephesians 1:3-8 are filled with promises that will help you win the fight for sexual sanity.
SUGGESTED RESOURCES FOR SEXUAL SANITY
Every Man's Battle
Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker
Worthy of Her Trust
Stephen Arterburn, Jason Matinus
Out of the Shadows
In the Shadows of the Net
When His Secret Sin Breaks Your Heart
At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry
Taking Every Thought Captive
Becoming a Man of Valor
7 Principles of Highly Accountable Men
Pornography: Slaying the Dragon
Every Heart Restored
Brenda & Fred Stoeker
Sexual Sanity for Men
Residential Program: Pure Life Ministries