Summary: An introduction sermon for a 13 week series on exploring various Spiritual Disciplines, designed to help the church draw closer to Christ and grow in Christlikeness.

Spiritual Disciplines: Introduction

January 6, 2008

1 Timothy 4:7-8

John 10:10

{Video of me shooting free throws and talking about spiritual disciplines}

Not a bad basketball player, even when the camera is on me. I was hitting in crunch time, the pressure was on and there were no retakes. Just me live on camera, shooting baskets. Now, you know this is not all about free throw shooting and basketball, this is an introduction into spiritual disciplines.

You see, when crunch time comes in our lives, are we going to be able to stand up under the test, or will we just crumble and hide in a corner? What resources will you and I use to stand up to whatever situation and circumstance we find ourselves stuck in? I don’t care if your situation was created by yourself, someone else or you seem to be an innocent victim of circumstance. What are your resources that you will hold onto? That is the question.

My proposition is that over the next 11 weeks, we will begin to practice ways which will draw us closer to Christ. We will practice different spiritual disciplines which will also help us give up some of that control we crave, and give it back to God as we begin to practice and learn about Spiritual Disciplines. This is part of my major project for my doctorate.

It’s a project I have been holding onto for over 3 years, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to finally be starting it, and doing it with you. It’s awesome, and my hope, my prayer, my expectation is that when all is said and done, we will be a church that is more passionate about Jesus Christ. We won’t give lip service, but it will be accomplished in our actions, in our words, in our attitudes . . . because through the next 11 weeks we will gain a greater awareness of who God is calling us to be and how we are to draw closer to God, stay connected to God and celebrate individually and corporately who God is calling us to be.

When I came to FBC, I spoke about what it means to follow what Jesus said in John 15:5, when He said, "I am the vine, you are the branches, if you abide in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit, apart from me, you can do nothing." What does that mean about our spiritual life? Can we accomplish anything apart from Jesus on a deep Christ centered spirituality, if we are not connected to Jesus?

My answer would be a resounding NO. Many of us would say we want to be connected to Jesus, but we just aren’t sure how to do it, and maybe even the prospect of drawing closer to Jesus is a little scary. Because if we come closer to Jesus, what is He going to want from us. Does that scare you a little. I mean, if you really got close to Jesus, that would be great, and you would not only feel great about it, but you would be demonstrating this amazing joy and peace and love to others. So . . . what stops us on the path to Jesus? Ourselves.

Over and over again, Jesus calls us to follow Him, but to do that we must come to Him. And there are the passages which are so wonderfully comforting, passages like Matthew 11:28, when Jesus said, "Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest." Doesn’t that sound great!? Yet, let me ask you to be brutally honest for a moment, ‘how many times have you come to Jesus, expecting to find rest and comfort . . . and . . . nothing? Yup, you experience nothing from Jesus. And you wonder, ‘what’s this all about? Why nothing?’ Where is God when I need Him the most?

These questions are similar to the ones the Psalmist asked in Psalm 77, consider these - - -

7 "Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?

8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?

9 Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?"

Those are powerful questions.

How many times have you come to Jesus when you were feeling depressed?

How many times have you come to Jesus when you were overwhelmed with life?

How many times have you come to Jesus when you were facing illnesses and surgeries?

How many times have you come to Jesus when your relationships were not right?

How many times have you come to Jesus?

How many times have you come to Jesus?

How many times have you come to Jesus?

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