Forward in Faith #09
Recipe for Spiritual Success
Do we have a Fickle Faith? That’s the question I asked you three weeks ago when we last were in the book of Hebrews. Does our Superior Savior, Superior Word, Superior Messenger, Superior Man, Superior Leader, and Superior High Priest deliver to us an Inferior faith? Well the obvious answer is NO. Our faith and the security of our salvation is based solely on Jesus Christ. So we are secure in our salvation. We cannot lose it because we didn’t earn it and God won’t take back his deposit promising the future that we have.
And yet, in Philippians 2:12 Paul says to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. Is it meaning that we can earn it? No the key is the first part of the verse when Paul says “as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation in fear and trembling”. The phrase “work out” is a Greek Word – katergazomai kat-er-gad-zom-ahee means not to create or keep, but carrying a work to completion. It’s like when you are supposed to show your work in math. It’s working out a problem even if you already have the answer. You are working out the problem. The term was also used in that day for working a mine. That is to get out of the mine all that is valuable. Or it is also in working a field to get the greatest harvest. So it is in Obedience Paul tells us that we are showing the resolution that we have already received from Christ. It is in obedience that we prove our salvation. In Obedience to Christ we are able to get out of our salvation all that is there for us. In Obedience we get the greatest harvest from our field.
The problem is that the faith is not fickle but the “faithful” the “saints” are sometimes fickle. Yep we struggle with “BIG” things and with “little” things that bring us down in the process of “working out” or proving our salvation gets bogged down sometimes and it’s not God’s fault it’s our fault
I want you to look at very practical things with me today. How can we work out our salvation, how can we move more in obedience and show on the outside what is already reality on the inside because of Christ Jesus? Read our text with me today for a Recipe for Spiritual Success. And like all recipes when get in the end the culmination of the things we put in to start with
Let’s take a practical walk through these verses and see what they have to teach us
Three things are a Recipe for Spiritual Success … Because verse 7 says “receives the Blessing of God”
So what are the ingredients
1. Deliberate Process Produces Results vv7-9
Did you see the process?
- A. Broken Ground
No it doesn’t mention broken ground, but that goes without saying
Without broken ground there is no harvest
Mat. 13:1-9- Jesus talked about seed being sown, and some when on ground covered with thorns and the thorns got all the nutrients. Others fell on rocky ground and there wasn’t enough good ground to get rooted. Others fell on a hard unbroken path and it was carried away by birds. But only what fell on good soil grew to a good harvest.
The scripture says that what God desires is a broken and contrite heart (Ps 51:17)
You cannot plant without breaking ground.
Humility and brokenness are a necessity to Spiritual Success
With broken ground that can receive planting
Then in this deliberate process is
- B. Often Falling Rain
Often falling rain
Frequent Falling Rain
There is nothing more deliberate that we can do in our spiritual walk than to place ourselves under the showers of the blessing of the Word of God
Paul says “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” Rom 10:17
We must be under the deliberate process of placing ourselves under the washing of the Word.
Psalm 133 paints the picture beautifully when it talks about the dew of Hermon washing over the Priest and then it runs off the priest onto the Israel.
The point is that my job is to go before the Lord and let his Word rain down on me and then the run off is to rain down on you
But our writer classified this rain …
OFTEN falling rain -
We can’t expect to have Spiritual Growth with infrequent falling Rain. If you ate once a week you wouldn’t grow. If you took a break once a day you wouldn’t live
The falling rain of the Word of God must be OFTEN falling.
You need to get Preaching and Teaching of the Word of God falling.
How you grow will be determined by what is often falling on you.
If you have often falling profane thoughts and teaching, that will grow in your life
If you have often falling negativity in your life, then it will grow
What is OFTEN falling on you?
It’s amazing how work, life circumstance and all can separate us from the sweet falling word of God and how quickly we shrivel like a plant that has been deprived of water.
But something will grow, I promise you it just depends what is OFTEN falling
You can’t expect to have The Word falling infrequently and the pagan worldview fall frequently, and Lord’s worldview to be nurtured.
“Pastor, how often is often?”
If you have to ask that question, then it’s probably MORE often than now.
Once a month isn’t enough
Once a week isn’t enough
So we have to come to the Lord in brokenness knowing we can’t make it ourselves
We must be under OFTEN Falling Rain
- C. Drink It In
You can be UNDER rain but if you are not letting it in, you aren’t getting wet and you aren’t getting nurtured
If you put your house plants outside but cover them with an umbrella, the rain won’t help
Get under the Word and Drink it in
- 1. Listen to it – let it get on the inside. Taking notes is a great way to listen. Taking notes will make you accountable for what you have heard. Taking notes will help you remember what you have heard
- 2. Meditate on it – that is spend some time thinking on what has washed over you
- 3. Ruminate over it – the word means to think deeply and it means to chew the cud. That’s what a cow does because he has more than one stomach and he needs to process his food. You know some of us I think have more than one spiritual stomach and we need to bring back up what we have heard, chew it over, think deeply, decide how it will affect our lives, what changes we will have to make to adjust to the Word of God
The reason many of us hear the Word of God, are washed over by it, but for the most part are never changed is because we don’t drink it in, meditate on it, ruminate on it and determine what we have to change to adjust our lives to the truth. So we go on the way we are
And when you are broken, receive often falling rain, drink it in and that deliberate process causes
- D. Useful Crop Produced
SOME crop is going to be produced. IN our lives we will produce good and bad crops but the ratio is proportionate to the type of rain or quantity of rain that falls
Here’s the thing, we have just read, that the “thorns and thistles” will be burned
Notice though in this image, WE are the field
The thorns and thistles or a good harvest are what is produced in us
Notice that the FIELD isn’t burned, the Thorns and thistles are burned
What is useful to the Lord is nurtured and useful … what is poor is going to be burned anyway so we need to spend out energy on what will last
But when we are deliberately obedient, and faithful, then we receive what our writer called “better things that accompany salvation”
We will not all produce the same but we should all produce. Matt 13:23 says some 100fold, 60fold, some 30fold. But all should produce the same kind of Fruit, by which Jesus said we can Judge the tree by it’s fruit in Matt 7:20. What Fruit? The Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23
That’s the first step in our Recipe for Spiritual Success … it’s focused personally
A Deliberate Process that produces results
2. Diligent Service Demonstrates Faith vv10-11
One of the most dangerous trends in the church is when we take in take in take in but don’t put out
Service must be a part of the Spiritual life of every believer.
It should not be IF you serve, but WHEN you serve
Look at verses 10 and 11 again
Let’s be honest, many times we don’t WANT to serve. Why? Cause people can be annoying. People can be difficult. It doesn’t seem to have much reward. It’s hard work. Well let’s break it down. If you are going to serve other believers,
- A. It is FOR the Lord
All of our service should be FOR the Lord not for men
Col 3:23 – whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward
It IS for the Lord so fix your eyes, heart, and mind on him
Don’t be deceived though …
- B. It IS Work
I’m amazed at how we hear of a need in the church, our emotions are stirred, we sign up for service and then we get into it and “wait a minute, this is HARD” … and we quit.
Well serving one another is HARD WORK
But your job is hard work but you don’t quit because you need the money
Your marriage is hard work and if you care you work Diligent Service is hard work
But that’s ok because …
- C. It is a Display of Love
1 Thes 1:3-4 – we continually remember … your work produced by faith, your labor promoted by LOVE, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you
Jesus loved YOU before you loved him and he CHOSE you and Jesus served you compelled by love
And so WE serve diligently and faithfully because we love Christ and we love one another
2 Cor 5:14 Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all
It is for Christ
It is hard work
It is a Display of love and
- D. It is Continual
Our writer said you CONTINUE to do
If LOVE compels us and it’s FOR Christ then we ought to keep on doing it
We should not be worn out by earthly and material things
Our writer says we continue with diligence to the very end
The word “diligence” – Spoude spoo-day zeal, eagerness, doing one’s best
Toward the Lord, out of love, hard work, to the end
Because our Service to one another
- E. It Displays The Reality of our Faith
Back to 1 Thessalonians 3 says our work is PRODUCED BY FAITH
We don’t WORK so we can HAVE faith
We work BECAUSE we have faith
And when we serve one another it shows the World that have faith
When you lovingly serve for the Lord only it is evidence that God’s Spirit is in you
What is the Fruit of the Spirit?
“Love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”
“Oh Pastor, I don’t have all those fruits. I have joy, peace, gentleness and self-control but I don’t have the patience and kindness, the goodness and faithfulness that others have”
Sorry, that’s not an option. It is FRUIT of the Spirit, singular. All of those are the fruit.
If you have an apple tree and you go out to pick fruit, do you expect to have an apple skin hanging on the tree, or half an apple? No you expect the stem, the skin, the meat, and the seeds. That is all part of the fruit.
So service is produced by the fruit of our faith, and it shows on the outside the reality of the presence of the Spirit within us.
Deliberate Process of Planting, Nurture, and Harvest
Diligent Service as evidence of our faith
And Ingredient #3
3. Discipled Believers Imitate Godliness v12
Diligence in service in verse 11 so that we will not lapse into Spiritual Laziness
- A. Do Not Become Spiritually Lazy
There is a strange dilemma that leadership faces in the church. We often have eager new believers who do not have the experience or maturity to serve and we have experienced and mature believers who have lost their zeal and lapsed into Spiritual Laziness.
The word is nothros = sluggish, lazy, slothful, slow to understand or slow to respond
Sluggish, Slothful, are there any of those in the church today?
Have you seen a sloth? Have you seen a sloth move?
If you don’t really watch you would never notice.
If we were honest we would admit that if you have been a Christian for any length of time you have become or have gone through stages of Spiritual laziness
We don’t serve because you don’t feel like it
We don’t love because they didn’t love you first
We don’t witness because you don’t want to open that can of worms
We stopped coming to Bible Study because you wanted more sleep or more free time
We don’t have a time alone with God or Memorize Scripture because it’s too much work or it’s easier to watch TV, Read the Paper, Listen to Mp3 or whatever
So, if you are already stuck there? How do you get OUT of the rut of Spiritual Laziness?
- B. Imitation Is The Greatest Path to Godliness
V12 says “imitate those”
Mimetes mim-ay-tace imitator, follower, to be like another
Find someone who is already doing what you long to be or do and COPY them.
Alcoholics Anonymous uses a phrase you with their newcomers who don’t feel like doing the program, they say “fake it till you make it”
How do you become a person of LOVE? Well you’ve heard 1 Corinthians 13 at every wedding you’ve ever been
So if you want be loving, then be patient, act kindly, release jealousy, stop boasting, stop being rude, seek others over yourself, go more slowly to anger, stop keeping track of wrongs. Rejoice in truth not evil, protect, trust, hope, persevere, don’t quit.
Those are the characteristics of Love. Start doing that and do it till you feel it and you will find that without knowing it you will be LOVING.
And what specifically does our writer say to imitate?
- C. Imitate What?
- 1. Faith
- 2. Patience
These two things work together to take us to the promises that God has for us
- 3. Faith believes what has been promised
Faith steps out of the boat when Jesus says come
Faith holds on when the night seems darkest knowing that the dawn is coming
Faith is what made David come down from the rim and into the Valley to face a Giant he could never defeat alone
Faith is what made Esther go into the King and speak on behalf of her people
Faith is what made Joseph stay by Mary’s side
Faith is what made Mary endure the hardship, lies and innuendo of her special pregnancy
Faith is being SURE of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
If Christ lives in you, but you don’t feel it, do it til you feel it
- 4. Because faith produces Patience
Patience is: The ability to be content with what the Lord has given you until your receive what he has promised
The Lord spoke that definition into my spirit last night while I was putting this message to bed. Would you like me to say that again?
Watch not the ashes of the dying ember.
Kindle thy hope. Put all thy fears away—
Live day by day.
—Julia Harris May
We get so frustrated waiting for Eternity to get here … but a wise man once told a little boy this truth “This minute TOO is part of Eternity”
- a. Are you patient? Are you content with what the Lord has given you while waiting for what he has promised? No? How do you fake it?
- b. Stop complaining about what you have
- c. Stop complaining about what you don’t have
- d. Stop complaining because the Lord is NOT moving at your pace or give you what you want
- e. Delight yourself in what you have.
You have JESUS CHRIST
You have the Holy Spirit
You are a son of God Most High
Psalm 37:3-5 tells you how to do it
Trust in the Lord and do good … Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do THIS: he will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun
- 5. To imitate Patience, begin to live PLEASED with the Lord.
- a. Delighting in what you have in him.
- b. Confident that he will do what is best and has amazing things for you that are beyond what we can understand
- c. Isaiah wrote … no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God beside you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him (Is 64:4)
- d. Paul put it this way no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor 2:9)
“Oh Pastor, I don’t know about imitation, I don’t think it is right to fake it”
- 6. I have news for you people that is discipleship
- a. We aren’t perfect, but we follow Jesus and imitate his perfection
- b. We don’t really know how to love, but we imitate God who loved so much that he gave his only son that whoever believed in him might have everlasting life
- c. We don’t really know how to be faithful, so we just get back up each time fail and find that THAT is what faithfulness is
- d. We aren’t really patient but we find that the more satisfied we become with what Christ has given us the more patient we are until he gives us what he has promised
And then my friends, fellow travelers, we look up at the end of this life and FIND … how about that,
I have inherited what has promised
And we Receive the Blessing of God
That is Success