Summary: This is message # 1 of a 5 part series, the last 3 of which will be preached by other people and so not show up on this site.

September 4, 2016 Sermon - Part 1 of 5 Part Series: “Living in Christ”

We are beginning a 5 part series today on what It means to be in Christ: ”Living in Christ”. I actually wasn’t planning to do this until it dawned on me that the outline for today’s message that I was working with couldn’t possibly be done in one message.

So Ron Farr, Bill Ryan and Ben Bowser will be unpacking the rest of the series after this week and next week, next week which is our baptism service, where we will be back in our normal location at 306 Gerrard Street East.

Today we’re talking about first steps: Becoming a follower of Jesus.

My hope is that this message will encourage you either in your own spiritual journey, or that it will equip you to have a better sense of how to provide support and direction for those who God has placed in your life and who express serious interest in what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

Now, I’ve mentioned to a few of you that I’ve begun to learn the violin. We’ve had Artin, James’ friend, here a couple of times and he’s an accomplished violinist, as well as, I hear, a great pianist.

I’m in my first year on the violin and a long way away from playing in front of anyone.

My long term goal is to be able to play violin, along with my other instruments, in worship services and in our jazz ensemble and perhaps in a quartet.

It will take years. Years of practice, of intensive study, of lessons and likely a lot of frustration along the way, but I will enjoy each step and will seek to honour God and worship Him through the instrument. That last part has always been a thing for me.

Music has always been a strong connecting point for me as most people with God.

Learning instruments has kind of been my thing for ever, but it’s been a strongly devotional practice on my part, a way of connecting with God.

Now put me in a quartet with other stringed instruments today and I ‘weell be da weakest link’. I would be a liability to any group, because I’m just finding my feet on the violin, which is an amazing instrument.

But honestly, I’m pretty rough right now on the violin. But that’s ok because I know from experience that with prayer, focussed discipline and a good amount of time and a worshipful attitude toward it will yield very good results. I will keep moving toward my goal.

Why am I saying this? Well, I’ve been thinking about what’s involved in growing - growing from children to adults, from novices to experienced, and also about what it means to grow as a Christian.

There’s a basic truth that ‘healthy things grow’. In music that means that when we practice the right things the right way, we get better.

It’s really like that in life and in Christian discipleship as well.

If I spend all my time practicing

scales and never sight-read, I’ll never learn to read music on the violin.

If I only ever read music, I'll never learn to improvise by ear without music.

If I only learn to play by ear, I’ll never develop the ability to read music, which means I’ll never be able to play any of the thousands of amazing pieces written for violin.

Developing abilities in regard to ANYTHING in life happens this way:

Learn it apply it, learn it apply it. Learn it apply it, learn it apply it.

Is it any different for followers of Jesus? No. We learn something, and then we apply it. We learn that Jesus calls us to turn the other cheek, and then we do it.

We learn that practicing forgiveness is crucial, then we do it. We learn that building a house on sand is pointless, but building it on the rock of faith in Jesus Christ is extremely wise, then we do it.

“Hang on. It’s not that easy”, someone will say. That’s exactly right. We apply what we learn first of all not on our own.

The Holy Spirit, who dwells inside us, enables us. And when we learn something and then apply it, of course it will be very imperfect. But when we give ourselves time, when we’re not needlessly harsh on ourselves and when we don’t give up, we grow.

It is God’s work in us, and the Bible says: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:6

The first step is to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and choose to make Jesus Christ as Saviour an active participant in everything you do. (Become a Christ-follower).

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