Sermon2- 17Sep06-2of3 RecoveringYourLostSpiritualVitality(RWReconnectingwith GodPart 1)
RECOVERING YOUR LOST SPIRITUAL VITALITY
Reconnecting With God
Part 2 of 3
Week 2 - September 17, 2006
Last week we began a three part series on the passage we’ve just read together entitled ‘Re-connecting with God’ and the question I asked last week was: What do you do when you’re in a spiritual slump and you don’t feel close to God, you don’t feel His presence in your life. You feel like your prayers aren’t being heard; you feel empty inside; you’ve lost your cutting edge. What do you do? If you recall I said that you do the four things the man did in this story of the lost axe head. First of all you admit you lost it and that’s where we began; that’s what we looked at last week. That means you just stop living in denial and you face reality. You admit you’re just not as close to God as you used to be. That’s the first thing the man did; he admitted it; he confessed it to somebody else.
This morning we’re going to consider the next two things you do when you’ve lost your cutting edge, your passion for your Lord.
First, you admit you lost it. 186 words
2. Acknowledge where you lost it. 974 words (Intro., 2&3 - 2018 words)
That’s the second step to reconnecting with God. This man identified the exact spot where he lost his cutting edge. Elisha asked him, “Where did you lose it?” and the man pointed out the spot. 2 Kings 6:6 the man identified the spot. “Elisha asked, ’Where did it fall into the river?’ and the man showed him the exact spot.”
Do you know where or how you lost your closeness to God? Do you know why you don’t feel close any more? There are many, many reasons that cause us to disconnect from God. Here’s a few:
Distractions and busyness. When I get busy with other things I tend to forget God. Even if they’re good things I tend to forget God. Sometimes I can go hours or even days in a spiritual dry spell not really thinking about God. One of the easiest times to do that is the summer time because there’s lots of stuff going on, you’re trying to get caught up on things you couldn’t do the rest of the year, you’re relaxing or you’re enjoying the weather outside. Those are all good things but you could go days without even thinking about God. And you get distracted by busyness. Serving God can keep you from loving God. You could even be so busy doing good things but you don’t focus on simply loving God.
Disobedience – not doing what you know God wants you to do. When God tells me to do something and I ignore it or I wait on it or I delay it it’s an automatic disconnect. What have you been procrastinating on? What do you know God wants you to do and you still haven’t done it? You plan to do it one of these days but you still haven’t done it. “I know getting into a small group would be good for me... I know reading my Bible would be good for me... I know I should talk to God in prayer all the time but I don’t. I keep putting it off.” What do you keep delaying? “I know I should go ask forgiveness from that person... I know I should offer forgiveness to that person.” Resentment is the major thing that causes you to disconnect from God. If you hold on to resentment, if you hold on to anger in your heart it’s an automatic disconnect and you’re going to go through a spiritual slump. When God tells you to do something you ought to do it now! Not tomorrow, not next week because any disobedience like that – procrastination – is going to disconnect you from God.
Relying on your own power and pride. When I get presumptuous and I stop depending on God and I say, “I can live this Christian life without praying every day... I’m a pretty good guy, I can make it on my own.” I get arrogant. I get prideful or presumptuous. I’m automatically disconnecting from God. I’m not meant to live this life on my own power. I’m meant to live it on God's power.
Carelessness or laziness. When I get lazy or when I get careless in my spiritual life and I stop doing the things that I know that keep me close to God. I stop fellowshipping with other Christians. I slow down and slack off from attending weekly worship. I'll go this week then I'll take a couple weeks off. I slack off on that kind of thing. Or I get lazy with tithing or serving or sharing or any of those things that I know help my heart stay warm and close and tender to God. I’m automatically going to be disconnected.
Step two in coming back to God, if you want to get out of your spiritual slump – First, Admit: “I lost it, God. I’m not as close to You as I used to be.” Second, I acknowledge where I lost it. You get honest and you be specific. Check which of those apply to your life. If it’s none of these, write down the cause of your spiritual dryness? It could be anger. It could be fear. It could be fatigue. You could get so tired you say, I just don’t have time for God. I’m not making any time talking to Him or letting Him talk to me through His word. You need to be specific. The good news is if we confess our sins to God, He can be counted on; He is faithful to forgive us, to cleanse us, to restore us back to Him.
Maybe you feel so disconnected from God and it’s been so long you don’t have the slightest idea what caused the disconnect. You haven’t the slightest idea why you’re not close to God any more. Maybe it was a relationship that kind of drew me astray. Maybe it was a hobby. Maybe it was a goal. Maybe it was making money. I don’t know what it was. All I know is I’m not where I used to be with God. What do you do when you can’t even figure out where or how you lost it?
You come back to God and you cry to Him and you say, “God, I need Your help! I can’t find my way to You. I’m so confused. Will You find Your way to me?” You can say that to God. You say, “I can’t see You but I need You. I want You to bring me back to where I belong.”
If you’re tired of living the way you’ve been living you need to Admit it. Then you need to Acknowledge where you lost it. I’ve lost my spiritual spark. I’ve lost my cutting edge. I don’t know or maybe I do know what drew me away. You acknowledge it and then you come to step Three.
But before we do that let’s sing again: 380 - Spirit of the living God
So, you admit you’ve lost you’re cutting edge, you acknowledge where you lost it and 3. Expect God to restore it. 865 words
Expect God to give you back what has been lost. This is the faith step. I must believe that God can and will and wants to bring me back to Him in a close relationship. I’ve got to believe it, I’ve got to have faith, I’ve got to expect Him to give me back what I’ve lost. 2 Kings 6:6 it says “So Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the water at that spot. The axe head floated to the top of the water.” That’s pretty bizarre. He does something very, very odd here. He cuts a stick and throws in the water and the axe head floats to the top of the water miraculously.
What is the significance of that stick? What is the spiritual power in that stick? None! It was just a stick. It had nothing really to do with the story except it was a visual demonstration of faith. He could have thrown a penny. He could have thrown an earring. It was most publicly saying, I’m going to do something that shows I believe God will restore what this guy lost. Elisha is not Houdini. He’s not David Copperfield. He’s not a magician saying, “Watch me pull a rabbit out of the hat! It’s just a demonstration of faith that says, “I expect God to give this guy back what he lost – his cutting edge.”
You may have a problem with this miracle. I don’t have a problem with it. I figure if God created all the iron in the entire universe He could make a few ounces of it float if He wants to. And if God created the law of gravity, which He did, He could reverse it in one instance which He did. And if God created all the laws of nature He can reverse one whenever He wants to which, by the way, is the definition of a miracle – the reversal of nature.
The lost axe came back. The point of the story is this: God specializes in doing the impossible. “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” What seems impossible in your life? “I’ll never be close to God again.” You’re wrong. “I could never be blessed by God. You don’t know what’s happened in my past.” You’re wrong. “I could never be used by God. I could never have His power in my life. I’m just one tiny person, insignificant.” You’re wrong. I could never see God pour out His grace, His strength, His mercy, His power, His presence in my life because I’ve really messed up my life. That can’t happen to me. It’s impossible.” You’re wrong.
God specializes in the impossible recovery.
Jeremiah 15:19 “The Lord says, ‘If you return to Me, I will [notice “will” not hope, not might, not I'll think about it - will] restore you so you can continue to serve Me.’” What a promise! If you’re a believer, are you tired of flailing around with an axe handle and no cutting edge? Have you been going through all the motions in your life and pretending like you had it together but really you’ve been kind of dead inside, empty. You’ve been going through all kinds of motion without emotion. You’ve lost your cutting edge. Doing that, it takes a long time to chop a tree and you get really tired. It’s no wonder you’re tired! You’re depending on your own power. You don’t have God's power in your life. It’s no wonder you’re fatigued all the time. You weren’t made to live powerless.
Did you notice when he mentioned the axe he said, “And it’s borrowed.” Did you know that everything in your life is borrowed? It all belongs to God. None of it really belongs to you. God loans it to you while you’re alive. You’ve brought nothing into this world and you’re taking nothing out of this world. But while you’re here for 60, 80, 90, 100 years God loans you some of His stuff and He lets you use it. When you die He’s going to loan it to somebody else. You don’t own a thing. It’s all God's. It’s all His creation. He just lets us use it. Even the power you have in your life, it’s borrowed power. It’s not your own power it’s God's power in you. You weren’t meant to live the Christian life on your own strength, on your own might, on your own power. You were meant to live it in God's Spirit inside of you.
The good news is you could reconnect to God this morning. You could plug back into that power. You can break out of that spiritual slump. How do you do it? Today, you come running back to God. Not walking, not skipping. You come running back to God with all your might. He has the grace and the power and the energy and the mercy to restore you.
We’ll look at the final step to restoring your spiritual vitality, breaking out of the spiritual slump and dry spell, the final step to recovering your cutting edge; next week.
Let’s pray: H/F you are a wonderful God in whom we can trust to lift us up whenever we fall, whenever we stray from you and lose our cutting edge. We have heard your word this morning and ask that if we have been disconnected in our relationship with you, that we would acknowledge the problem and then expect, in faith, for You to give us back what we have lost. Thank you for your grace and the possibility you offer us that we can begin again. Amen
354 - Purify my heart, set us apart for you, our Master, ready to do your will.