Summary: SPIRITUAL EXHAUSTION---Prayer is a very vital part of recovery
FOUR STEPS TO THE SAFETY ZONE
2 Chr 7:14
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
While principle-centered preaching seems to resonate with so many people, it actually can lead to two equally dangerous paths.
One path is spiritual pride.
Those who are working hard to implement this feel really good about themselves.
They feel close to God because of how well they are doing--sort of like the Pharisee in Luke 18 who rejoiced in his own moral goodness and despised the sinner praying next to him.
How convenient that pride and self-centeredness weren't on his list!
If we as pastors are not careful, we can end up creating a culture filled with Pharisees--good, moral people who are striving to do the right thing and yet remain blind to their own real need.
The other dangerous path is the path of disillusionment and despair.
Each week, those in our churches hear more things they are supposed to be doing--good, spiritual, Christian things--and they know deep down that they can't do it.
They've tried to change. They've knelt at the altar, making promises and commitments and resolutions, but each time the end result is the same: no change except for the added guilt and shame. Some resolve to try harder, but others give up all together.
So what's the answer? How can we as pastors and teachers help people avoid the trappings of the principle-focused path?
How are we to preach to the spiritually exhausted?
The answer may surprise you: Preach the gospel. Preach the gospel not just to the lost but to the found.
Often we as pastors see the gospel as the entry point into Christianity.
We preach the gospel to lost people, but we fail to realize that the saved need the gospel just as desperately.
So how does one go about preaching the gospel to those who have already embraced it?
The answer is very simple: Preach repentance and faith as continual activities rather than as one-time, initial responses to the gospel.
The mistake we often make is not realizing that repentance and faith are critical aspects of a person's ongoing experience with Christ.
Often we as pastors shy away from using the "repentance" word too frequently.
We realize that many Christians view it as an oppressive, negative word or as something we do when we really mess up.
Part of our role as pastors and teachers is to help people understand that repentance is anything but oppressive.
It is life-giving! When Jesus began his ministry of preaching the gospel of the kingdom, he laid a crucial foundation with these words from Matthew 5:3:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Guess what He's talking about? Repentance.