Summary: This message continues on our series of messages exploring the practices the Bible calls us to do on a regular basis to develop our walk with God.
Chico Alliance Church
Pastor David Welch
Every once in a while we find it necessary to go to the doctor for a physical. We make an appointment with a person who is familiar with how the physical body functions and the signs of good and not so good health. The doctor went to school to learn to look for particular vital signs. He will order certain tests and look at certain things that indicate good physical health. These things are universal and unchangeable. It will do no good to focus on other factors. The doctor will not care what brand name clothes I wear, what color my hair is, the number of books I have read or my favorite color.
He wants to know if my blood pressure is within a range that indicates good function. He wants to know if my heart rate is steady and within the range that indicates good health. He will look in my eyes and ears and down my throat. He will order a blood test, among others, to see if a variation within these particular vital signs indicates a problem. Then the doctor will prescribe a course of correction usually calling for greater attention to diet and exercise leading to better vital signs.
There are some Biblical vital signs that enable us to monitor our spiritual condition. Paul diagnosed many spiritual malfunctions by attention to particular spiritual vital signs. Love for God and others, joy, peace, goodness, gentleness, longsuffering, kindness, self-control.
One who regularly engages in the spiritual exercises or habits prescribed in scripture will enjoy greater spiritual vitality and broader eternal impact.
So far we have identified seven.
Solitude and silence
Interaction with Scripture
Thanksgiving and celebration
Prayer (Meaningful conversation with God)
These activities exercise the soul for increased capacity to live on the eternal level of life. Without them, we cannot grow. Without them we will never experience the full joy of Christ’s life lived through us. These activities are all key elements involved in building relationship with anyone.
Today we begin a brief exploration of the next activity or habit. This particular activity is one which many passionately admire but few personally aspire. This activity is the very foundation of Christianity. Some might champion this activity as the very key to a fruitful life. In the coming weeks I want to ask and answer three basic questions. What is it? Why is it so vital? How do I practice it as a habit of life?
Every Christian serious about a deeper walk with God and greater impact in our world must perceive, pursue and practice this activity as a way of life. This aspect of our relationship with God is probably better illustrated than defined.
Jim Elliott at 21 years old "One treasure, a single eye, and a sole master." (1948)
"God, I pray Thee, light these idle sticks of my life and may I burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you, Lord Jesus."
"Father, take my life, yea, my blood if Thou wilt, and consume it with Thine enveloping fire. I would not save it, for it is not mine to save. Have it Lord, have it all. Pour out my life as an oblation for the world. Blood is only of value as it flows before Thine altar." (1948)
"Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be aflame. But flame is often short-lived. Canst thou bear this, my soul? Short life? In me there dwells the spirit of the Great Short-Lived, whose zeal for God's house consumed Him. 'Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God:" (1948)
"Overcome anything in the confidence of your union with Him, so that contemplating trial, enduring persecution or loneliness, you may know the blessedness of the 'joy set before: for 'We are the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise: And what are sheep doing going into the gate? What is their purpose inside those courts? To bleat melodies and enjoy the company of the flock? No. Those sheep were headed for the altar. Their pasture feeding had been for one purpose: to test them and fatten them for bloody sacrifice. Give Him thanks, then, that you have been counted worthy of His altars. Enter into the work with praise:' (1949)
"Remember-and I don't mean to sound pedantic or impudent as if I knew all the costs remember that we have bargained with Him who bore a Cross, and in His ministry to those disciples His emphasis was upon sacrifice, not of worldly goods so much as upon family ties. Let nothing turn us from the truth that God has determined that we become strong under fire, after the pattern of the Son. Nothing else will do. Lord make my way prosperous, not that I achieve high station, but that my life may be an exhibit to the value of knowing God. "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." (1949)