Study Guide: Keeping the Valve Open

Sunday April 21, 2013 | Greg Boyd, Vanessa Williams

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

God’s design for creation is beautiful. But, sometimes, we don’t follow God’s design for our life. In this sermon, Greg and Vanessa Williams address the battlefield in our mind and how to keep God’s goodness flowing to us. In addition, Greg gives a Kingdom response to the Boston Marathon bombings.

Extended Summary:

Living out a Kingdom life starts again every morning, and it begins with the brain between your ears. It is our job to align our minds with the reality of the Kingdom. Everyday we have a choice. Do we live out the Kingdom or do we continue in our old ways?

Living out the Kingdom, in Paul’s writings in the New Testament, requires three things. First, we need to know the reality of God’s Kingdom. Second, we need to believe and imagine the world as though God’s reality has already happened. Finally, we should behave in ways that reflect that reality.

Since our reality is that we are a new creature in Christ, we should live out that reality. Jesus already did the work of making us new creations. We just need the faith to live it out. As Greg has shown over the past few weeks, we are new creations. Living out that new reality is why we put on the behaviors of Christ.

Whenever we align our mind with the reality of the Kingdom, we keep the valve open for God to pour into our life. God wants to pour into our lives, but it’s up to us how much he does that. How much we align ourselves with God’s plan for creation will determine how much he can pour into us.

God’s design for creation is beautiful. God wants to communicate to our Spirit so that our soul can be changed. Once our soul is changed, we begin to behave differently. When we behave differently, we affect the world as a Kingdom follower. This is God’s plan; a top down and inside out kind of living. Our brain links us to our soul. When we open the valve and allow ourselves to accept God’s plan, God begins to overflow our lives with the Kingdom, and we begin to make a Kingdom impact in this world.

God trusted us to live out this design and we turned it over to Satan in the Garden of Eden. Satan’s design for creation is not beautiful. Satan works from the world and gives us experiences that affect our body. Our body sends these signals to our mind and our souls are affected. This is a bottom up, outside in influence.

The battlefield is our soul and our mind is the connection to our soul. What goes on between our ears is important not only for our soul but for which Kingdom we live out. It is on this battlefield where we are to constantly be on guard and vigilant to what God has for us and where Satan is trying to cause trouble. We must seek to keep the valve open.

Part of this battlefield is forgiveness. Forgiveness is not ignoring a problem or dismissing this problem. There are many situations where forgiveness doesn’t mean the same thing as reconciliation. Forgiveness, according to the Bible, is a releasing or cancelling a debt. When someone wrongs us, they are in debt to us. They have harmed us, and they owe us something to make that right. When we gave up our authority to Satan, we owed God a debt that we couldn’t fulfill on our own. Only through Jesus was this debt satisfied. And it is this love that God showed us that shows us how we should forgive others.

While we were yet in sin, God forgave us. When we harbor unforgiveness, we have problems. We are not acting with God’s love towards people when we harbor unforgiveness. We may think that not forgiving someone strengthens us and feeds us, but in reality, it only goes against the person God created us to be. Forgiveness is a major component of the battlefield in our soul. When we don’t forgive others, we are acting upon Satan’s orders. When we forgive, we’re acting on God’s orders and opening the valve to his Kingdom to reign in our lives.

Forgiveness isn’t easy. Even for God, it cost everything. But it is something we are called to do for those that hurt us. Releasing people from their debt is important because it shows God’s mercy. It doesn’t mean that we have to reconcile with that person or not protect ourselves. It simply means that we won’t allow Satan to use our circumstances to shut off the valve that God supplies.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Have you ever taken the time to see which parts of your life aren’t aligned with the reality God has for you? If you have, what parts of your life do you feel God calling you to align with his reality?
  2. God asks us to imagine his reality taking place in this world. What situations in this world do you have the most trouble imagining this reality? What situations seem like they are unable to be restored?
  3. Take another look at the diagrams that Greg used in his sermon. Why do you think God works the way he does? Why do you think Satan works the way he does?
  4. Forgiveness is an important part of the battlefield. Who in your life do you need to forgive?
  5. Where, in your life, do you need to forgive yourself?