Sermon by Dr. E. Dale Locke
Series: Fixer Upper (Making the Changes that Matter Most), Week 6 – “Setbacks”


  • FOUNDATION: In week 1, we considered the foundation you are building your life upon.
  • CLARITY: In week 2, we suggested that you first become clear about what needs to change in your life and what it may cost you to change it.
  • PLANS: In week 3, we considered the balance between God’s sovereignty and our own plans.  We noticed that, in order to see change happen, we need to take initiative and make plans, but we should also include God in those plans.
  • DEMO DAY: In week 4, we examined the need to tear some things down in order to build new things up.
    • Some folks shared with Pastor Dale that they realized they needed to back away from some friendships in order to see some important changes happen in their life. Do you have any friendships that are not pulling you in a good direction?  If so, what could you do to change that situation?
  • GET TO WORK: In week 5, Pastor Trevor spoke about working out our salvation as God works in us.  We looked at Philippians 2:12-13, where Paul writes: Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed– not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence– continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

 Pastor Dale pointed out that Paul was:

  • Absent-minded about his past
    • Are there some things in your past that you need to let go of and leave behind? If you’re willing, share briefly with the group about one area you need to leave behind.
  • Open-minded about his present
    • What does it mean to be open-minded about the present? How can you live that out practically?
  • Single-minded about his future
    • What is the opposite of being “single-minded”? What will your life look like, if you are “single-minded” about your future?
  1. Today we will consider how to deal with setbacks. Give some examples of setbacks you have experienced when you were trying to change in an area of your life.  How did it affect you to experience those setbacks?  What did you do to get past them?
  1. Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-12:
    Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
    5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
    7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
  1. What thoughts or questions come to your mind as your read this passage?

Paul knew what it was like to face opposition in his Christian life.  Pastor Dale shared three things that gave Paul the ability to handle his setbacks:

  • Understand the Uniqueness of our Faith:
  1. What are some things that are unique about the Christian faith that can help us live life with victory, even in the midst of setbacks?
  • Develop a Persevering Faith
  1. What does Paul mean when (in verse 7) he says that: “we have this treasure in jars of clay”?
  1. Pastor Dale said that, “We don’t change when we see the light. We change when we feel the fire.”  What did he mean by that?  How have you experienced that truth in your own life?
  1. God can redeem even our setbacks and failures to develop our faith and make it stronger. Explain how He does that.
  • Stay Connected to a Supportive and God-Honoring Community
  1. When you experience a setback, what difference does it make whether you are part of a supportive, God-honoring community or not? What have you observed about this in your own life or in life of others?

In 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, Paul writes: For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

  1. What are some things that help you focus on the unseen, eternal world, when you are going through a difficult time?
  1. If you are facing a setback, it’s important to remember the following three truths:
  • God has not left you.
  • God is not judging you.
  • God loves you.

Which one of these three truths resonate with you the most, in your current situation?

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