Summary: This message is intended to help you learn how to do regular diagnostic work on your spiritual health and growth.
23“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
24Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-23)
Diagnostic testing is a regular part of life. We diagnose everything from health to a car. Your family physician evaluates your health with yearly check-ups. A mechanic puts your car through diagnostic tests to determine if the electrical system has a short. Whether it’s to determine the quality of water or the acidity of garden soil, those who do diagnostic work use two means: questions and tests.
This series of messages is intended to help you learn how to do regular diagnostic work on your spiritual health and growth. The English Puritans often referred to ministers as physicians of the soul. As a “physician of the soul,” I will suggest questions and tests, and with the aid of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God, you will learn how to self-diagnose and discern your spiritual health.
A good diagnosis always includes some key questions. Why not start with a few?
Ø When was the last time you did something for the first time for Jesus’ sake?
Ø What would your Christian life be like if you were making more than just incremental gains in your performance or quality of life?
Ø Have you realized that your capacity for life in Christ can be greater than ever?
Ø What challenges inspire you to greater achievements?
This series will aid you in rocketing past previous limitations and making real breakthroughs.
When I graduated with my doctorate from Fuller Seminary, Denny Davis, President of Northwest College, gave me a card with the picture of a cyclist crossing the finish line holding up his hands in victory. This saying was written on the bottom:
“You can do anything if you put your focus on how to do it rather on why you can’t.”
The reason I am teaching you how to diagnose your spiritual health is because all of us come to a place in our Christian life when we realize we are not really where we want to be. The good news is that God is on our side and is able to move us into a closer alignment with Jesus Christ. Psalm 18:29 reminds us of that promise: “With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.”
The text provides a growing awareness that I am capable of so much more. If I keep doing the same thing, I am going to get the same results. I love the action verbs in the text: advance and scale. They’re words that are aggressive. No indecision here!
For most of us, no little change will do. It must be something of seismic proportions. The word often associated with such change is the word “paradigm.” This word is used for a set of shared assumptions regarding what works or what is true. In this series I will be asking you to discard old thinking and embrace a new model of living for Christ. This new paradigm will be a fresh wineskin that God will use to hold the truth of his word that he wants to deposit in your spirit.
The word for paradigm is often associated with Jesus’ words found in Matthew 9:16-17:
16“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
But this scripture is void of power if you don’t believe God can make it happen. Do you believe? The first step to a proper spiritual diagnosis is getting a handle on Breaking Through the Barrier of Belief. The effort and learning you are going to achieve in the next few minutes will provide rest in His arms. It is there that your driven soul will find wisdom and your restless mind shall find peace beyond all understanding.
Breaking Through the Belief Barrier
For over one hundred years the Holy Grail of athletic competition was to run the mile in less than four minutes. With each failed attempt the possibility of success faded further. In the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and early 50’s science and what passed for sports medicine held that the human body was simply incapable of such unbelievable performances. The conventional wisdom of the day was that the lungs could not process enough oxygen to sustain the effort; they would burst under the strain, as would the heart. The bones would fracture, joints rupture, muscles give out, and ligaments and tendons would tear and fail under such stress. It was a physiological and psychological barrier.