Going Back to School

Kids are going back to school. Some are looking forward to it some are not. If FB is right, most if not all parents are looking forward to it. I always liked school, because it meant football season was here and I got to see all of my friends. But not everyone likes for school to start.
One guy said to his mother, I’m not going back to School.” She said to him, “Give me 2 reasons why you don’t want to go back to school.” He said, “First, the kids hate me. Second, the teachers hate me.” His mother said, “You still have to go back to school because you’re the Principal.”
You can probably think of reasons why you did or didn’t like school, but there are some positives to going back to school.

“Back to School” time is when people start re-focusing their lives so they can learn what they need to learn to become what they want to become.

Is there anyone here that has learned all you need to learn? Is there anyone who has become everything you dreamed about? Probably not.
So, no matter what our age is or what level of education we have attained, we need to take advantage of this learning and growing time of year.

We’re all going “back to school” in some sort of way throughout our whole life.

Our little people are entering Preschool or Elementary School. Our pre-teens and teens are entering Middle School and High School. Some young adults are entering College, while others are enrolling in the School of Hard Work… or the “School of Hard Knocks.”
The Fall is a good time for you to take a look in the mirror, for you to evaluate and decide what areas of your life could use a little change. Our kids are going back to school, so it’s a good time for us to learn and grow as well. Some of you have gone through the school of hard knocks in various areas of life.... While the school of hard knocks is not fun, we can learn from it and help others through it. Unfortunately, I have discovered that

Some people don’t want to learn and grow up, and one reason is because they don’t know how to deal with “change” in their lives.

Anyone here like change? Most of us don’t. Most are resistant to change and we get even more so when we get older.
Mama - she won’t even try new foods...
“Change does not bring death; the fear of change brings death.” (Hugh Macleod)
He is saying that if we are not willing, and even wanting to change, it will inhibit our growth and prevent us from becoming all we ever dreamed of being and all the Lord wants us to be.
So how do we navigate change?

Navigating “change” and learning and growing is all about developing the right priorities in our lives.

Today, as we go back to school, lets think about what our priorities in life should be and how we can implement those in our lives.

“What are the right ‘priorities’ that we need to develop in our lives as we ‘go back to school’?”

1. Successfully going back to school requires getting our priorities right.

The first priority is in our text…
Matthew 6:33 NLT
33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

God says he wants to be first in our lives. Ex 20:3

He also said this in the 10 commandments when he said,
Exodus 20:3 NLT
3 “You must not have any other god but me.

Anything or anyone that comes before the Lord is a ‘god’ or ‘idol’ in our lives. 1 CO 10:14

1 Corinthians 10:14 LBP
14 So, dear friends, carefully avoid idol worship of every kind.
“What are some things that people allow to become ‘gods’ or ‘idols’ in their lives?”
Can a career be a god? / money or desire for money? / House? / another person? / pursuit of pleasure? Sure it can.
Throughout history if you showed up in a community and you found the biggest building where the most people were gathered all at one time, then that would tell you who or what is most important to that culture. If you came to New Orleans on a Sunday morning during football season, where would you find all the largest number of people cheering, shouting or praising? At the Superdome.
Your god could be football, golf, baseball, your kids, sports on tv, video games, a boyfriend or girlfriend, and infatuation with success.
Anything or anyone that comes before God in our lives is an idol to us.

“Idolatry” brings unresolved hunger, helplessness and hopelessness to our lives.

You will never be satisfied chasing after anything but a relationship with Jesus.

Only the Lord can bring us the satisfaction, significance and security we’re looking for in life (Psalm 115:3-9).

Until we are ready to prioritize the Lord in our lives, we will always be searching for satisfaction, significance and security in our lives and relationships. Don’t be like Mick jagger…
So, what should our priorities be?

Our order for priorities should be: 1) Honoring and Serving God, 2) Strengthening our Marriage (if married), 3) Caring for our Family, 4) Fulfilling our Work / Calling, and 5) Enjoying Life (friends, recreation, hobbies, etc.)

When you get our Priorities right, you will find yourself doing much better in the school of life. You will have more satisfaction, more significance and more security that you had before you got it right.

2. Successfully going back to school requires seeking to live a godly life

Matthew 6:33 NLT
33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Jesus is telling his followers that we have to settle the issue of priorities first. We are to be different from unbelievers whose priority is comfort, security, pleasure...

To live “righteous lives” we have to learn how to overcome our selfishness, sinfulness and self-reliance.

1 John 2:15–16 (NLT)
15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.
Do you struggle with any of these? We all do, but we will never progress in life and graduate from the school of life until we learn to overcome those struggles. How do we over come these? We put God first and as a result, we will grow closer to Him.

Overcoming our selfishness, sinfulness and self-reliance requires support, encouragement and discipleship from other Christians.

Too many Christians hang out with negative, nominal or non-Christians who don’t encourage their walk with the Lord nor their striving for righteousness. But the Bible clearly tells us...
Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT
12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
I want to encourage you to make a habit of being here every opportunity you we offer. You need to be around people going the same direction you are wanting to go. Join any small groups we offer… go to any classes we offer… go to all ladies night outs. ...
Build relationships you can trust… people you can call when you need something… when you are hurting…

The Lord wants us to live righteous lives as we go back to school and live our lives.

1 Peter 1:14–19 NLT
14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” 17 And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.” 18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.
The Lord paid a great price for you and for me to have salvation, forgiveness of sins, etc. in our lives.
Since he has done this, we should have gratitude for what he has done, is doing and will do in our lives, & we should do whatever it takes to live a righteous life (live for him), even if means re-arranging our schedule so we can go “all in” with our walk with the Lord by being in services, classes and groups. When you do, you will be blessed, but you will also be a blessing to others.

When we live righteous lives in an unrighteous world, we will be “shining lights” in a darkened world. (Matt 5:16, Phil 2:15-16)

Matthew 5:16 NLT
16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
Philippians 2:15–16 NLT
15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.
We have the opportunity during this “Back to School” season to shine our light on to other people. The people we go to school with, the people we work with, the people our kids go to school with or play football with or go to dancing school with or we work out with - We have the opportunity to shine our light to all of these people.
We can invite them to our ladies nights out… our men’s functions, etc. We can invite them to church and we can even invite them to ask Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of their lives
Who are some people in my life that that I need to shine my light on to in this coming year?

3. Successfully going back to school requires trusting the Lord for our provision

Matthew 6:33 NLT
33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
How many of you have needs in your life? (physical, emotional, financial, health, relational, etc.) We all do. We all have many needs in our lives. But Jesus says...

Jesus said we are not to worry about finances, food, fashion, fitness or the future. (Matt 6:19-34)

Matthew 6:19–34 (NLT)
19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. 22 “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! 24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money. 25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
I know we have people who worry about what they will eat, or how they will be able to purchase food / pay the power bill / fashion - am I in style / fitness? / the future?
People worry about these things and many other things like children, failures....
Why do people struggle so much with worry?

Jesus said worry is futile, foolish, frustrating and faithless. (Matt 6:25-32)

Someone said,
“Worry is a mild form of atheism.”
“The beginning of worry is the end of faith, and the beginning of faith is the end of worry.” George Mueller
We love Cracker Barrel - they have those big rocking chairs outside. Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhwere.
There are two things we should never worry about. 1- things we can change and 2 - things we cannot change. Why worry about something we can change, just change it. The rest of the stuff won’t happen.
University of Michigan Study 98% of our worries never happen. Someone said
“Worrying about what we can’t help is senseless and worrying about what we can help is stupid.”

When we worry, we are disobeying, distrusting and disregarding the Lord.

Four reasons the Bible says worry is a destructive habit

1. Worry accomplishes nothing. Matt 6:27
Matthew 6:27 NLT
27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
2. Worrying is not good for you. Pro 12:25
Proverbs 12:25 NLT
25 Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.
3. Worrying is the opposite of trusting God. Matt 6:30
Matthew 6:30 NLT
30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
4. Worrying puts your focus in the wrong direction. 1 Peter 5:7
1 Peter 5:7 NLT
7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Trusting in the Lord is the opposite of worrying about our circumstances.

So now that we’ve established that WORRY is a bad and sinful idea - the question is how do you respond to anxiety in a biblically healthy way? Look to the scripture for the game plan.
Philippians 4:6–7 NLT
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
The Bible says that every time you find yourself feeling anxiety and beginning to worry, you should immediately start praying. God wants you to tell him all you need, thank him for what he has already done. Once you do this, Paul says the Lord will give you peace, a peace that exceeds what you hoped for and what you can explain. This peace will guard your hearts (nervous emotions) and your minds (anxious thoughts).
Note - the Bible does not say that when you tell God what you need, that he will do it. It says that when you tell him, he will give you peace.
Philippians 4:19 NLT
19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
Joke - A man said to another man, I want to hire you to do all of my worrying for me. As a matter of fact, I’ll pay you $100,000 / year. The other man said, great, but where will you get that kind of money? That’s your first worry.
Putting our trust in the Lord is not at all like that, but it is securing the Lord to handle our needs for us, and he has plenty of resources.

Trusting in the Lord is what leads to victory and blessing in our lives. 1 John 5:4; Hebrews 11:6

1 John 5:4 NLT
4 For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.
Hebrews 11:6 NLT
6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
Trusting in the Lord is what we will be teaching you to do over the coming weeks.

4. Successfully going back to school requires focusing on today’s opportunities.

Matthew 6:33–34 NLT
33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
IOW Jesus was saying that we need to make the most of today’s opportunities. The Psalmist had the same thought. He wrote
Psalm 118:24 NLT
24 This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Have you ever missed out on any opportunities? Have you ever missed on any Financial opportunities?
Mama’s Boss’s grnadfathe with Coke / Man with Sam Walton / Apple (85/share 196/share) / Google /
Lot’s of people have missed financial opportunities, vocational opportunities, relational opportunities and other types of opportunities. Most of the time we miss out on opportunities because we’re focused on our failures of the past or our fear of the future, because we’re not focusing on today’s opportunities.
When we allow fear and worry to dictate our lives, it robs us of the opportunities that God is placing in front of us. We have to purposely decide to wake up every day looking for the opportunities that God is placing before us.
Opportunities to Share our Faith, Opportunities to Serve others, Opportunities to Bless somebody else, Opportunities to Encourage someone, Opportunities to Cast Vision to others, Opportunities to Pray for Someone, Opportunities to Teach someone, Opportunities to Be a Godly Example, Opportunities to Disciple someone.
Every day presents itself with new opportunities that we can take advantage of, if we will Prioritize the Lord, Seek to live godly, and Trust the Lord for our Provision.
Ephesians 5:15–16 NLT
15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.
What kind of opportunity should we be looking for?
Opportunities to grow in the Lord by reading, studying, meditating on the WOG… praying and worshipping Daily… First 15… devotionals…
Opportunities to develop a strong support network of godly individuals around us in our Life Groups.
Opportunities to help our Children develop good and godly values by bringing them to Church and to Life Groups.
Opportunities to learn how to serve God and others through involvement in our Life Groups.
Opportunities to learn how to make a positive difference in our world as you get plugged into our Church.
There are all kinds of opportunities available for you if you will just get plugged in to what is happening here at River Church.
What are soem of the doors of opportunity that God is opening for me at this time?

We don’t have to worry about tomorrow because the Lord has great plans and purposes for our present and future.

Jeremiah 29:11 NLT
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
We will be learning more about these plans and purposes during the school days series.
We will experience our strongest and most successful “school year” ever when we prioritize the Lord, live righteously, trust Him completely, and focus on the opportunities that He is making available to us in the present and the future.

We will experience a strong and successful “school year” when we’re willing to go ALL IN with the Lord’s purposes and plans for our lives.

Wrap Up
One time Jesus was walking down the streets of Jerusalem and a man walked up and Jesus said, Follow me” and the guy said, “Okay, I will follow you. But Lord, let me, first, go take care of some things I’ve got to take care of”.
Now, that little phrase there – “Lord, let me first” is a contradiction. You can’t say “Lord” and “me first” at the same time. If you’re saying “me first”, He’s not your Lord, He’s not in charge. So, you have to decide who’s going to be Lord in your life – you, or God? Is it going to be God first, or me first?
Let me ask you a very personal question –
Where are you saying to God, “me first”?
Even Christians do this. Where are you saying, “God, I’ll live for you, but let me first find somebody to marry. God , I’ll live for you, but first let me finish my school. God I’ll live for you, but let me first get the kids out of the house. God, I’m really going be on fire for you, I’m going to do it all, but let me first achieve financial independence. Let me first pay off my mortgage. Let me first build my career.” And God says, “If I’m not first, none of this is going to be in the right perspective”.
Jesus told the story; He said, “it’s like an influential person who plans a big banquet and he goes out and invites everybody to come to this wonderful banquet. He said people began to make excuses.”
The first guy said, ‘I just bought a field, and I must go and see it – please excuse me’.
The 2nd guy said, ‘I just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way out to try them out – please excuse me.’.
The 3rd guy said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come’”.
Now, think about this. These 3 guys are invited to a banquet by the king; they all turn him down. The first guy uses his wealth as an excuse – I just bought some land and I have to go look at it – it will still be there, but he had to go look at it. The 2nd one used his work as an excuse – I’ve got to go and plow my field. The third guy . . his wife as an excuse – I just gotten married.
What excuse do you keep giving God for putting yourself 1st in your life?
Listen to me, if you would put God 1st in your life, He’ll take care of everything else. He says, “You put Me first. You make My will the goal of your life. You’re going to fulfill My purposes for your life and I will take care of you in ways that you do not even know.” Look at next vs.
Proverbs 3:6 LBP
6 In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.
I don’t know anybody who doesn’t want to be a success. You want to be a success? The Bible tells you how, right there – “In everything you do, put God first.” In everything you do, put God first & He will crown your efforts with success”. Here it is in one sentence.
Whatever you want to be successful in, put God first in it. Do you want to be a success in your marriage? Put God first in your marriage. Do you want to be a success in your family? Put God first in your family / career / schooling and education . . . God does not bless what He’s not number one in. But He does bless in amazing ways anything that we put Him first in.
What does God want? He wants your whole life. Have you been trying to live a part-time Christian life? The first question of life is - What does God want? He wants all of you. Not part, He wants all of you.
For some of you, putting God first means receiving Jesus as the Savior and Lord of your life (Explain). In just a few moments I’m going to invite you to do that.
For others of you, putting God first would be taking the step of Baptism that you’ve been putting off.
For others, putting God first would be dedicating yourself to striving to live the kind of life that the Lord wants you to live.
For others, putting God first would be getting involved in a Life Group, where you can be discipled by others, or be involved in discipling others. In just a moment, I’m asking you to go to one of the Life Group tables in the worship center and receive information about some Life Groups near you, and register quickly to become a part of one.
I’m going to ask you to put God first today. Remember what Jesus said in Matt 6:33
Matthew 6:33 NLT
33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
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