Summary: Sermon 1 of a New Year’s series based on Wilkinson’s book Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs.

What’s your New Year’s Resolution for 2005? Is it a resolution to spend less and save more? Is it a resolution to spend less time on one thing and more time on something else? Or, is it a resolution to exercise more and well… weigh less?

The January 3rd edition of the daily e-mail column, Mikey’s Funnies, listed Fifteen Exercises We’d Be Better Off Without in 2005. Here they are!

(Overheads 1 and 2)

~ Jumping on the bandwagon

~ Wading through paperwork

~ Running around in circles

~ Pushing your luck

~ Spinning your wheels

~ Adding fuel to the fire

~ Beating your head against the wall

~ Climbing the walls

~ Beating your own drum (2)

~ Dragging your heels

~ Jumping to conclusions

~ Grasping at straws

~ Fishing for compliments

~ Throwing your weight around

~ Passing the buck

When I shared with a friend what my New Year’s sermon series was going to be she replied something to the effect of giving up resolutions because they made her feel bad. Resolutions have a way of doing that to us.

But we are going to focus over the next 5 weeks on four worthy resolutions for 2005 that I believe God wants us to achieve in the coming year. (Overhead 3)

To have a spiritual breakthrough in my life in 2005

To have a spiritual breakthrough in my marriage/relationships in 2005

To have a spiritual breakthrough in my family in 2005

To have a spiritual breakthrough in my walk with God in 2005

Now the first question you may have at the tip of your tongue is “Jim, what is a spiritual breakthrough?” Good question! I am glad you asked! Here is a working definition:

A spiritual breakthrough is a choice that comes out of my desire to get out of a rut in my life with God’s help and through God’s plan. Now this rut maybe related to your relationship with the Lord. Maybe you need to work on trusting God more in your life. Or maybe you need to give God first place in your life.

For others of us, maybe our rut has to do with a habit that keeps us from experiencing God’s peace and power in our lives. Or, maybe the rut that we want to get out of has to do with a family issue that needs to be addressed.

Maybe we have tried and tried in our own strength to get out of this rut. We’ve asked this person or that person for advice. We’ve read this book or that book on the issue. But nothing seems to work. May be it is time to experience a spiritual breakthrough and get out of that rut by asking God for help and following completely through on God’s plan!

As we begin our series on Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs I want to acknowledge two sources, in addition to the Bible (the most important source), that I will be drawing upon for this series. They are two books by Bruce Wilkinson, the well-known author of the bestseller, The Prayer of Jabez. One is entitled, Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs and the second one, which will be the basis of an adult Sunday School class for the next several weeks, 30 Days To Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs.

Now before we look at our passage of scripture this morning, I want us to spend sometime reflecting on the four areas that appear on this overhead and I encourage you to use the appropriate place on your bulletin to write down things that you need to write down as one way to begin the process of experiencing all that God has for you during the rest of your life.

(Overhead 4)

What is the biggest rut in my life right now?

Life presents us with lots of opportunities to get into a rut that either we jump into without regard for what might happen to us, or through a choice made by someone else that causes us to “eat dirt,” or through the reality that life is at times, awful.

As you reflect on your life right now, what is the biggest rut you are in? Write it down and keep it in a place that you can refer to through this series.

What is the biggest rut in my marriage/relationships right now?

I believe in marriage. I believe that God created marriage between a man and a woman for lots of wonderful reasons. I believe that a good marriage is critical for kids and teens to become great adults.

I also know that marriage is, at times, hard work. When you bring two people together who come from different backgrounds and have differing levels of expectations, marriage becomes a challenge.

Many here today have experienced the pain of divorce. You have tasted both the sweetness and the sourness of marriage. No matter what or how your divorce happened I firmly believe that God still has a good plan for you with regard to relationships and that as you follow His plan, you can experience some great things within that plan.

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