Sunday, August 12, 2007

Starting Out Right
Watch the Video

Starting Out Right

Intro.: One author tells the story: When my son was a small boy playing with his buddies in the back yard, I overheard them talking one day. One of them remarked, “My Dad knows the mayor of the town!” I overheard another say, “That is nothing—my Dad knows the governor of our state!” When I wondered what was coming next in the “program of bragging” I heard my own little son of four years of age say, “That is nothing—my Dad knows God!” I hurriedly left my place of eavesdropping with tears running down my cheeks, I looked up to God and prayed, “Oh God, I pray that my boy will always be able to say, ‘My Dad knows God.’ “1

  1. Last week we began with the premise that one of the reasons we come to church is because we have a longing to know God better.

  2. I suppose I could make life real easy by handing out a list of twenty things you could do to

  3. But then this would be missing the point.

Read: John 3:16-21


Trans: In the next few minutes I want to look at three myths that often deter our building strong relationship with God..

  1. Myth 1 – Getting close to God is not about doing, it is about listening

    1. Last week we suggested that we sometimes get so busy that there seems little time for God.

    2. But if we focus on what we are doing, we will will be missing the point. We can never do enough to get right with God – Paul makes it clear, “And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.2

    3. Normally the command is reversed – if people come to faith by hearing the word of God, then we need to be telling them the truth.

    4. But there is another application – it means that we are called to listen.

    5. But listening is not just an activity of the ears – it is a part of all of our senses.

(Ill.) I experienced something like that this week. Sandra and I took a couple of days away before school starts up full time for her in a couple of weeks. We would normally stay at the Red Roof Inn just this side of the Buffalo airport – but it seems like there were two back-to-back concerts at Darian Lake and all the nearby hotels had upped their prices – outside our budgets. So we drove a bit further and went to the Microtel in Tonawanda.

On the way, Sandra looked out the side window and saw a groundhog or some similarly sized animal waddling up the bank running parallel to the road side. I never saw it.

Too often that is what our Christian life is like – God is doing something special in our lives, but because we are too busy – driving, working, living – and we forget to see what He is doing. We forget to listen to Him.

    1. If we want to grow close to God, we need to listen. And that is my prayer for you this week. That you will listen for God's voice.

  1. Myth 2 – Getting close to God is not about place, it is about obeying

    1. For some people faith is about what happens on Sunday – when I am in church, my faith is important, but beyond these doors,

    2. I doubt that this is a big problem here – but it is important to remember.

    3. Church is not the place where we meet God, rather it is the place that prepares us to meet God wherever we may find ourselves.

    4. In the same passage that Jesus tells us to “Go into all the world ...”, he also reminds us that “Lo, I am with you until the end of the age.”

    5. Getting close to God is not just about coming to church, but it is living close to him wherever you may find yourself.

    6. It may seem strange that I would say in the same sermon, “It isn't about doing” and just a few minutes later to say, “it is about obeying.” If we focus on being a Christian, doing everything right, we will have missed the point about what it means to be a believer. It is not about doing.

    7. But we are expected to obey – as we get to know God and as our relationship grows, we will want to obey God. No – not do it all – but do those things that God calls us to do.

(Ill.) John Bunyan once wrote, “Christians are like the many flowers in a garden that have each of them the dews of heaven, which, being shaken with the wind, they let fall at each other’s roots, whereby they are jointly nourished and become nourishers of each other.” Christians should remember that our spiritual growth and strength not only comes from regular bible study and prayer, but also from using the talents and spiritual gifts that God gives us to encourage and equip others.”3

    1. Getting close to God is not about a place, but about being where God wants you to be.

  1. Myth 3 – Getting close to God is not about time, it is about heart

    1. Getting close to God is not about doing, getting close to God is not about a place, and getting close to God is not about time – in the end, it is about the heart.

    2. Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    3. The Christian life begins with the heart – John tells, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”4

    4. Or as Paul has written, “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”5

Conclusion: Do you want to get closer to God?

  1. It begins with a heart transformation.

  2. If you want a living, vital, relationship, then start by looking at your heart.

  3. Does it belong to God?

  4. If you have never placed your faith in Jesus' work on the cross, or wonder if you have, today is a good time


1AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

2The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Ro 10:14-17). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

3AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

4The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Jn 1:12-13). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

5The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Col 3:9-11). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

No comments: