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Summary: This sermon outlines Four Elements of Spiritual Growth.

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INTRODUCTION: New Year’s Day resolutions - a waste of time and energy because they focus on the body and leave out the mind and spirit.

1. We gain knowledge but have no perspective

2. We are convicted but often lack the skills implement growth

3. We attempt change without developing our character

NEED: If you want to experience a better year in ‘04 you must put your spiritual life in order. I want you to commit to spiritual growth this year. This is the one thing each of us needs regardless of our present level of spiritual maturity. If you don’t commit to spiritual growth even the most religious sounding goals will be meaningless.

1. Pastor, I’m reading through the Bible again this year. But I sure don’t plan on using any of it.

2. I’m going to have perfect SS attendance this year. So don’t expect me to invite anyone else.

This isn’t spiritual growth, though I certainly hope both of these will be part of your strategy this year. Spiritual growth not only changes our habits, its changes our personalities. It transforms us into the people God takes pleasure in.

SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 4:1-13

TEXTUAL IDEA: Only through spiritual growth can we walk together in unity.

SERMON: 4 Elements of Spiritual Growth (adapted from Warren’s Purpose Driven Church, Chapter 18)

1. Knowledge

2. Perspective

3. Skill

4. Conviction

The result, Character, is often viewed as the 5th Element of Spiritual Growth. Personally, I prefer to teach that Christian Character is the goal of Spiritual Growth.

DIVISION 1: THE FIRST ELELMENT OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH IS KNOWLEDGE

Knowledge of the Word - in any conversation concerning gaining learning or knowledge God’s revealed knowledge must be included. It is senseless to talk of building the roof until the floor and walls are constructed. In the same way we recognize in order for us to grow in knowledge or wisdom we must gain better understanding of what we are already given. In reference to the Bible and the things of God you must ask two basic questions:

1. What do I already know?

2. What do I need to know?

Of course the more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know. Learning is more of an upward spiral than a linear movement.

Knowledge of the WORD - Rick Warren’s model for Application Bible Study

Wonder about it - awareness

Observe it - empirical science (comment on false science that isn’t based on what we can observe}

Reflect on it - meditation

Do it - application

I like this model because it so accurately reflects the way we gain true knowledge. Simply becoming aware of something doesn’t imply wisdom. It isn’t until you have applied that knowledge that you begin to gain understanding.

Illustration: I teach my karate instructors how to learn from their students. As teachers, we gain understanding through the process of our students applying our lessons to their life experiences. The more they grow, the more I grow.

I want to develop the idea of Reflection for a moment. Understand this term in the context of what the Bible calls meditation. Christian meditation is a far different endeavor than transcendental meditation attempted by eastern mysticism.

One attempts to bypass all the physical stimulants that your body naturally perceives in order to feel at one with the universe. A feeling of emptiness is the desired goal.

There in lies the greatest difference. If I spend any time at all thinking about God, the emptiness brought about by the things of this world begins to subside. Christian meditation doesn’t try to become one with an impersonal universe. As Christians our prayers and meditations are meant to get us in touch with a personal creator whose ways are far greater than our own. Get in touch with God and watch what happens.

Meditation - Gen 24 Isaac meditating in the evening looks up to see a beautiful bride

Meditation - Josh 1:8 “ this book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do all that is written in it.”

Joshua spent far more time meditating on what God had given him than on reading War Plans and Strategy Books. God gave him the promised land.

Phil 4:8 meditate on the things that are nobler, purer and lovelier and watch the outcome.

DIVISION 2: THE 2ND ELEMENT OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH IS PERSPECTIVE

Perspective is primarily an aspect of view point or vantage point. The higher up the tree you get the further you can see. We must learn to view things from God’s vantage point not ours. This requires the promise of the Holy Spirit, that dwells in you as a child of God.

This larger frame of reference allows you to see how things are interrelated. Spiritual Discernment allows you to make accurate comparisons concerning importance and priority.

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