Summary: Abiding in Christ takes daily effort
Purpose Series #3
(Six Sessions on God’s Purpose for Your Life)
The Daily Routine of Abiding
SCRIPTURE READING: Ephesians 4:22-24
All of us have some kind of morning routine. Mine has advanced in complexity since my college days. Back then, I just got up, threw on clothes, ran to the OBC cafeteria, grabbed a doughnut and coffee, and ran upstairs to my 7:00 class. (…from bed to classroom in 10 minutes flat) Well, it’s a good thing you go to college when you’re young. Getting ready for the day takes a little more time now. It involves showering, spritzing, combing, brushing, medicating, shaving, clipping, dressing, accessorizing, eating, and --- if time permits --- strumming. And it takes a lot longer than 10 minutes.
All of us tend to have some kind of morning routine … and we seldom vary from it. When you think of your routine, ask yourself this question: What is your daily spiritual routine? Do you have regular habits of prayer and Bible Study that have become part of the pattern of your life?
This week our Pueblo groups are going to be looking at John chapter 15 where Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man abides in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5:
When I started working on this sermon, I realized that we’ve focused on this passage several times in the past 3 years. We’ve talked about abiding in Christ. We have looked at the meaning of God’s pruning of the branches. We’ve examined what it means to be cut off from the vine. We’ve focused on how Christians can bear much fruit.
It seems to me that if we’ve studied these verses so often, God must want us to catch on to something! For one thing, ABIDING in Christ is what “discipleship” is all about --- that slow, gradual process by which we develop character and maturity.
And why would that matter? Because --- just as you were created to love God and to love others --- you were also created to become like Christ. And the truth is, it takes effort to grow in Christ. In fact, I discovered that the New Testament tells us to “Make every effort…” 8 times. Here are some examples:
· Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Luke 13:24
· Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romqns14:19
· Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3
· Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy… Hebrews 12:14
· Make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge, etc…. II Peter 5-7
· Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him. II Peter 3:14
It seems clear that if we are going to Grow in Christ, we need to make every effort. God changes us only if we INVITE Him to do so. ABIDING IN CHRIST means we give God a daily invitation to enter into our hearts and minds. So how can we make every effort to ABIDE in Christ?
Our TEXT this morning --- Ephesians 4:22-24 --- gives a good answer to that question. Think of it as a daily spiritual routine. The first thing these verses tell us to do is to:
1. Put off the old self
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires… Ephesians 4:22
This is the part of your daily routine where you look in the mirror, so to speak. And you see that things are not looking all that great… Which reminds me of a joke I heard. This is one of the differences between men and women:
· A man looks in the mirror in the morning and sees that things aren’t looking so good – in fact, he’s a mess. So what does he do? He shrugs his shoulders and heads out the door.
· A woman looks in the mirror, and she also sees that things are not looking exactly perfect. So what does she do? She says, “Hey, I can FIX that!”
In James 1:23-24 we read this admonition: Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. James 1:23-24
Every day we need to take a good look in the mirror and realize that the OLD SELF --- the part of us that is lazy and selfish and proud and stubborn --- that part of us that still loves to sin --- that OLD SELF is still with us. We’re kidding ourselves if we don’t see that.