Harmony Christian Church
Harmony Christian Church
Manipulation Station
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How do you stop manipulating people and situations around you?  More of us that would like to admit need to find the answer to that question.  If you’ve ever struggled with feeling out of control, this this weeks sermon is for you.  Tune in and listen! Help us advance the Kingdom, support our online ministry (harmonychurch.cc/give).  Got kids?  Check out Harmony Kids online (updated weekly)  https://www.harmonychurch.cc/harmony-kids-online/! 
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OPENING ILLUSTRATION: Do you remember the time you first realized you could control people with your behavior?  We call this manipulation.
I remember learning that with my personality I could get people to do things.  And I abused it.  I had this friend Casey who I’d go out to eat with.  I’d say, “Casey, before we leave you are going to buy me lunch…”  Casey, was like, “nope, no way…” and then I did this, every time Casey would take a bit of anything from his meal, I’d just look at his food and watch it go to his mouth with a sad look on my face.  Every single French fry…  Every bite of cheese burger.  Finally, about half way through, Casey was like, “Fine, what do you want!?”
There was a short period in my life where I would take advantage of it.  I could make people laugh too and get them to give me things for free at restaurants, etc.  
Thank goodness, I matured and realized at some point that manipulation was a terrible way to get what I wanted.  
Manipulation only causes resentment and leaves people feeling used.
But we’ve all known someone who never quite learned that there were other tools in their arsenal other than manipulation…
I knew a woman in a church who was the MASTER manipulator.
She would do ANYTHING to get her way. If she needed to be sweet and buy you things, she’d do that if she needed to emotionally abuse you, she’d do that if she needed needed to shame you, she’d do that
She could be the sweetest person or the most vile – she did whatever it took to get you to do what she wanted.
WE: You’ve felt this before, right?-Maybe your mom was constantly manipulating your emotions towards your dad, keeping you on her side and against your father and as you got older you realized you had been fed a story?-Or maybe your dad constantly held his money and position over your head.  You were constantly being controlled by a sense of shame and the feeling you weren’t good enough.-You’ve had the boss or coworker that is constantly using their position, their health or some other thing to get what they want and cause you to fall into line
and it’s all because Manipulation is a means to control people, situations, or outcomes without their full consent.
It’s why it produces resentment and the feeling of being used. Manipulation is all about YOU and getting what you want without regard to how it truly affects others.
Some of you have a picture of someone in your head… Maybe even your own family…
SCRIPTURE ILLUSTRATIONS: You ever known someone that makes you feel good about your family?  The story of Jacob from the bible is like that for me, it also gives me hope that if God can use him, He can use you and me.
Genesis 27ff.  Jacob is the grandson of Abraham and Sarah and his family is one of the most manipulative I’ve seen..
He and his mom work out this plan to steal his blessing from his brother – to take advantage of his aging father who is blind and probably a little senile.  At one point his convinces his brother to trade his birthright for a meal.  He goes off to find a wife and finds one in his mothers family, who is just as devious.  They tell him he will be marrying the younger daughter, but when it is night and he can’t tell the difference, the father sends the older daughter to sleep with Jacob.  Can you imagine that next morning?  Waking up, the sun rising, you roll over to look at your new bride and tell her how much you love her and it’s her sister…  Ha Jacob ends up marrying the woman, Rachel, that he originally wanted to marry.  He keeps scheming and manipulating and it affects his entire family.  
The problem is most of the time, manipulative people don’t even know they are manipulative
Jacob was just doing what his family did, his mom had taught him this way of getting what you want, and it’s what he did to get what he wanted
So, How do you stand in the gap and stop the manipulation cycle?
3 Practices move you toward trust
Practice 1:  Actually do the hard work of confronting why you seek to control situations.
Most people who manipulate others do so because deep inside them, they are not sure they can trust.-trust things will work out-trust they will be cared for-trust others to do what’s right-etc.
But at an even deeper level, you will find a distrust of God. The statement is “If I don’t make it happen, then it’s not going to happen.” -this is not just a statement manipulators think, but it is the base of what’s going on.-I want something and I’m going to make it happen..
Jesus talking about how we shouldn’t be afraid of anything makes this INCREDIBLE statement…Matthew 10:29-3129 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. What is it for you?  What has led you to distrust God to the point that you have taken things into your own hands?
-Jesus said not to worry about where your needs will come from?-When Paul suffered with a thorn in his flesh, Jesus told him His grace was sufficient-Jesus said his yoke was easy and his burden light
If you aren’t willing to do the hard work to confront your past (the things that cause you to fear losing control) b Then you’ll never stand in the gap and get past manipulating people and situations. How do you do this?-Find a quiet place and give yourself ample time-Get a journal and start prayerfully writing down moments in your life that you felt alone or out of control- Pray through them with God.  “where were you?”  “Is this true? Was I alone I out of control when _____ happens?”
Practice 2:  Make prayer your go to, not strong arm tactics. Philippians 4:6-7 (The Message Version) 6-7 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
If your natural inclination is manipulation – then the antidote is prayer-because prayer refocuses you back to trusting God
you can stand in the gap and stop the cycle of manipulative behavior by leaning into trusting God and living in constant prayer.
So, when you feel triggered, slow down and pray…
Practice 3:  Live on mission. Matthew 6:31-34 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 
CS Lewis said that one of the troubles with how people view Christianity is that they see it as trying to make life better, He said Christianity is not trying to make it better, it’s pointing to an entirely different life.
Jesus is pointing you to an entirely different life b A life that, when lived for God’s Kingdom, doesn’t have to worry about controlling everything. b Because you are living for the one who is in control
it’s as simple as…Advancing the Kingdom by living for God and loving people
CLOSING ILLUSTRATION: When we were in the Smokey Mountains over Spring Break, we had gone up to Rainbow falls outside of Gatlinburg.  We had been hiking all day and were now driving around this loop looking for bears.  We pulled up closer to this car that was stopped watching something we thought for sure we were going to get to see a bear.  But as we got closer, we realized what they were watching was a turkey that was attacking a parked truck.  It was really funny, this turkey was strutting around, pecking at the bumper and tires of the truck, like it was going to push it around and back it off.  I’m not sure what the truck had done to get the turkey mad, but evidently something.  
It hit me, the turkey thought it could do something about this immovable object.
Some of you have been living like you have the power to control your world – you’ve been pecking at it and are frustratingly trying to make it move and bend to your will.
Stop being a turkey.  Stand in the gap. b Your job isn’t to move the world to your desires, your job is to move your desires to the one who moves the world.