Sunday, August 05, 2007

Preparing To Grow
Due to Technical Difficulites,
there is no video this week

Preparing To Grow

Intro.: I suspect I am much like you.

  1. I suspect that there are a variety of reasons you come to church.

  2. Maybe it's because you feel you have to be here.

  3. Or maybe its because you want to make sure that you maintain your reputation.

  4. And none of these are really bad reasons. And there are times when they fit me.

  5. But I suspect for most of us, at some point the reason we come here is because of deep, unspoken, desire to know God better.

  6. We live in a busy world. We live in a world that easily distracts us from focusing on our a spiritual life. The list goes on. Our reading, television, movies, friends, our lives – all seem to leave little time to build a relationship with God.

  7. Yet that is exactly what God wants – a relationship.

Read: Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me--watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.


Trans: When I first read those words, my heart was moved.

  1. I wanted what Jesus was talking about – real rest, unforced rhythms of grace, living freely and living lightly.

  2. Jesus is offering what I need, Jesus is offering what I want

  3. I can't help but wonder if Jesus is not also offering what you want and need.

  4. During the next few weeks I want to spend some time looking at how we can build a relationship with God.

  5. But before we do, I want to spend today looking at some principles that will guide our discussion.

T.S. I would like to explore three principles that will serve as a foundation to building a relationship with Jesus.

  1. Building a relationship has been the goal of Christians for years

    1. We may live in the 21st century, but the goal of having a vital, growing relationship with God is not a 21st century idea.

    2. When scripture teaches us about prayer or serving, it is teaching us how to build a relationship with God.

    3. The middle ages had great Christians who, as mystics, taught us the value of meditation and the need to spend personal with God.

    4. It was the practice of the spiritual disciplines that defined John Wesley's ministry – even before he had his Aldersgate conversion experience.

(Ill.) The “Holy Club” at Oxford were known as “Methodists” as they has set times for prayer, worship, and service. At the time it was a derogatory term – but it followed Wesley for the rest of his life. And we continue to share the name today.

    1. In the 20th century the church has relearned the value of small groups in supporting each other.

(Ill.) Having said that, Donald Bloech, a reformed theologian, makes the observation, “If anything characterizes modern Protestantism, it is the absence of spiritual disciplines or spiritual exercises. Yet such disciplines form the core of the life of devotion. It is not an exaggeration to state that this is the lost dimension in modern Protestantism.”1

    1. Just as we need physical exercise to keep ourselves physically fit; we need to practice the spiritual disciplines, in order to keep ourselves spiritually fit.

  1. Each relationship is different

    1. I sometimes get carried away in my preaching. Though I make it sound like everything I say applies to everyone, I also remember that not everything I say applies to everyone.

    2. When we relate to people, we all have different relationships. As I relate to Bob, it is a different relationship than that of my wife to Bob, or that of Rick, or Val.

    3. Just as relationships between people differ, so does the relationship God has with each us will differ.

    4. There are constants – When we are told to love our neighbor, it applies to everyone. But that does not mean we all love our neighbor in exactly in the same way.

(Ill.) Carl Jung was one of my favorite psychologist when I went through my counseling program. His focus was on the power of dreams and myth in the lives of the individual. In the year 1939, just before the Second World War broke upon the world, a woman visited Dr. Jung of Switzerland and began to tell him of her personal difficulties and problems; then she paused and said, “Dr. Jung, I can’t understand how a man like you has time to listen to our petty problems. An individual seems so insignificant with the whole world sliding toward an abyss.” Dr. Jung paused a moment thoughtfully and then said, “But you see, the world’s problems begin with the individual.”2

    1. God also understands that. He will take each us as we are and use the gifts, the talents, and the flaws – and as we seek to live near him, the relationship he wants we me, the relationship he wants with you, will grow.

    2. My relationship will not define your relationship, your relationship will not define my relationship. But, though God relates to us as individuals, we can celebrate the relationships he does have with us.

  1. Building a relationship is going to change us

    1. But the story does not end there.

    2. I suspect we have all heard of the teen girl who had the opportunity to shake the hand of her favorite rock singer or movie star. Do you remember her reaction - “I'm never going to wash that hand again!” Of course she does – the change she felt when shook the hand of her idol that first time, was not permanent.

    3. Now, for a minute, imagine that you come face to face, not with a teenager's idol, but with God. Not just some mamby, bamby God. But with the God of creation, the God of salvation, the Holy, Perfect God, who knows you better than you know yourself.

    4. When you meet that God, you will be like that teenager who has met her idol – and you will never want to go back to being what you were.

    5. During the next few weeks we will tools that the church has gathered together under the rubic of “Spiritual Disciplines”.

    6. Not all of these disciplines are for you – but it is my hope, that, in your quest to draw nearer to God, you will find some of these tools helpful to your own spiritual growth.

Conclusion: This week, I want you to begin to pray.

  1. Begin by asking God to renew or refresh His relationship with you.

  2. Ask God to prepare your heart to know which of the tools, the spiritual disciplines, that we look at are going to look at God wants you to pursue. Ask God what tools He wants to use to build His relationship with you.


1Water, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (283). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

2Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

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