Sermon3-24Sep06-3of3 RecoveringYourLostSpiritualVitality(RWReconnecting with GodPart 1)+InformalCommunion
RECOVERING YOUR LOST SPIRITUAL VITALITY
Reconnecting With God
Part 3 of 3
Week 3 - September 24, 2006
This morning we’re looking at the final part of our three part series which began by asking the question : How do I re-connect with God when I’ve been in a spiritual slump; when I’ve lost the cutting edge of my faith in my relationship with God.
I suggested we need to do the four things the man in the story of the lost axe-head did in order to regain our passion, our commitment to God, that we had when we first came to faith in Jesus. The first thing the man did and what we also need to do if we’ve lost our spiritual cutting edge, is to admit we’ve lost it; we admit we’re not as close to God as we used to be; secondly we acknowledge where we lost it. In the story of the lost axe head the man acknowledged the exact spot where he lost his cutting edge; thirdly it’s the step of faith – we expect God to give us back what has been lost. We must believe that God can and will and wants to bring us back to Him in a close relationship. We’ve got to believe it, we’ve got to have faith.
The last thing we need to do, and that we’re considering this morning is to:
4. Reach out and receive Him.
You admit you’ve lost it, you admit where you’ve lost it, you expect God to give it back to you and then you reach out and you receive it. You accept what God wants to give you by His grace because it’s all by grace anyway.
Today we’re going to remember God's greatest gift to us as we take communion. 2 Kings 6 says ”’Now get it,’ Elisha told him. And the prophet reached in and grabbed it.” Do not miss this important point. The God who did this miracle – piece of iron at the bottom of the Jordan river and the God who miraculously floats it back up to the top so He can take it back could have just as easily have taken it another 15 feet, brought it up out of the water, through the air and put it in the guys’ hand if He had wanted to. But He didn’t. He just brought it to the top of the water and said, Now you reach in and grab it.
What’s the point? You have to do your part. You have to do your part in coming back to God. You’ve got to reach out and receive it. Look at Revelation 2 again. Here’s how you reach out and receive it. Jesus says, “The love you had at first is gone. Remember how far you have fallen. Return to Me and change the way you think and act and do what you did at first.” Three things. If you’ve been distracted and disconnected from God do these three things.
First you remember. What was it like when I was close to God? You think about how good that felt and how great it was to be in the centre of God's will with a clear conscious and knowing the joy of being connected to God. You remember those good times. You remember how far you’ve fallen.
Second, you return. Take the steps back to Me.
Third, you repeat. Do the things you did at first.
Did you know that these three steps work in any relationship? It’s not just a relationship to God but it’s the key to restoring love in any relationship. Within a relationship, love comes and goes. Love is a choice. It’s because you’re choosing not to love. It’s not something that’s uncontrollable in your life. You’ve chosen not to. He was an idiot or she was an idiot or you both were and you’ve stopped loving each other! Love is always a choice. If you choose to not love you can also choose to love again.
How do you restore a lost love in a marriage that’s gone dead? You do the exact three same things here. You remember what it was like when you first got married, when you first started dating. Why did you fall in love with them in the first place? What attracted you in the first place? What excited you and what was it that you found so appealing and attractive? You remember those good times when you had the good times. And then you return to that relationship. You don’t wait for them to come back to you. You go back to them. Take the steps to move forward. Then it says you do the things you did at first. You know why you lost your love for that person? You’re not doing the things you use to do. You don’t send flowers any more. You don’t make the phone calls. You don’t spend time together. Instead you sit around and make bodily sounds you would never have done in the early days. From both ends of the body! And if you want to restore the love in a relationship you need to do the things you did at first. Buy little presents and act in loving ways and do loving things. That’s what brings the love back.
And that’s what brings the love back to Jesus Christ. You need to do those things you use to do when you were so in love with God, when you were close to Him.
If you don’t get anything else I say, I want you to get this. You are as close to God as you want to be. You can’t blame it on anybody else – your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your husband, your wife, your parent. You are as close to God as you want to be. If you’re not close to God, guess who moved?
People who are connected to God, people who are blessed by God, people who have God's power in their life, people who are used by God, do you know why they have that? It’s because they want it! They desire it! They crave it! They long for it! They want it more than anything else in the world. I want to be close to God. You know why God uses me? You want to know why God's hand of blessing is on my life? It’s because I crave it. I want it more than anything else in the world. I want to know and love God. Nothing else even comes close including loving my wife who I would die for. But it’s nothing compared to what I want of God in my life.
That’s my choice. And it’s your choice too. Do you want God to bless you? Do you want God to do miracles in your life? Do you want to sense His presence and His power? Then you need to just make the choice. Because people who are blessed by God desire it with all their hearts. And they reach out and they grab it. David says, “I long to be able to enter Your courtyard and come near to the Living God.” Do you? Do you long to be that close to God? Or is it just kind of a “If I can fit it into my schedule between Tuesday and Thursday at 3 p.m. then God, I have a little room for You in my life.” God will not play second place to anything in your life. He deserves the best. He made you. He loves you. He has a plan for your life. He wants to take you into heaven and He will not take second place to anything else. He will not play second fiddle to any person or anything or any desire or any dream. If you’re going to be connected He’s got to be number one in your life. Otherwise you have missed the entire purpose of your life and that’s sad.
There’s a song that was written years ago I can’t remember who wrote it, but it goes: “My eyes are dry, my faith is old, my heart is hard, my prayers are cold. And I know how I ought to be – alive to You and dead to me. But what can be done for an old heart like mine? Soften it up with oil and wine. The oil is You, Your Spirit of love. Please wash me anew with the wine of Your blood.”
I don’t know a better way to reconnect with God than through communion, the symbol that He gave us to remind ourselves of His love and sacrifice for us. After this service, if you’d like to stay behind, we’re going to eat and drink these symbols of what Jesus has done for us, because the only antidote to spiritual dryness is just to fall in love with Jesus again and we’re going to pray that He brings us back to loving God and gives us back the joy of our salvation. The cross proves how much God loves you and me and there’s no other way for us to get to heaven besides Jesus dying for us. That’s what love is and when he stretches out his hands it’s as if to be saying if this doesn’t soften your heart, if it doesn’t melt your heart, nothing will. If you can think about the Cross of Christ and not be moved, you, my friends, have a serious problem. You’re more disconnected than you realize but there’s good news; God’s grace is always available for us, no more so than through the celebration of Communion. The secret of getting out of a spiritual slump is you need to fall in love with Jesus Christ again. Ask him to light that fire again, to bring you close to him. He’s waiting for you.
Let’s Pray: dear Lord thank you for loving us with so much passion and commitment. May we learn again to love you, especially if we have been or are in a spiritual slump and have lost our cutting edge. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen
If it helps, let me give you words to pray as you participate in the bread and the wine. The first phrase is from Psalm 85 “Now bring me back to loving You, O God my Saviour,” and the second from Psalm 51 “Give me back the joy of Your salvation.” As I said earlier, the only antidote to spiritual dryness is just to fall in love with Jesus again.
The cross proves how much He loves you when He allowed the soldiers to stick a spear in His side, put nails in His hands and His feet and put a crown of thorns on His head; when he let people spit on Him, and when he took your sin and my sin on Him. If there was any other way to go to heaven besides Jesus dying for you He wouldn’t have wasted the effort. But there was no other way for you to get into heaven. That’s what love is. In remembering what Jesus has done for you and for me, may we find sufficient grace to soften your heart. God made us and formed us, and planned me, and He has a plan for your life, He wants you and me to live in heaven with Him. We need to be all that God wants us to be, because otherwise we’ll miss out on our purpose of life.
Jesus took the bread and said, “This is My body. It’s a symbol of how much you matter to Me. I’m giving My life for you. Do this to remember Me.”
Even if you’ve never opened your life to Jesus Christ, you can say this in your mind: “Dear God, I don’t understand it all but I know I need You in my life. I’m sorry I’ve put other things ahead of You. I’ve forgotten You most of my life. Jesus Christ, I know You deserve to be first place. You made me, You loved me, You died for me. You have a way for me to live and a reason and mission to live for. So, today I open my heart as best as I know how and I ask You to come into my life as best as I know how. Help me to get to know You and make me like You.”
Jesus took the cup and said, “This cup represents the blood that I shed for you. When you drink it remember that this is how much you matter to Me.”
Tell God u want to reconnect to Him today; to pull u out of this spiritual slump; to restore u’r cutting edge, the spiritual vitality; to warm up u’r heart, increase u’r faith. Say to Him: I want You to be first in my life from this moment forward. In Your name I pray. Amen,”
Take eat and drink, the gifts of God for His people.
Dear Jesus Christ, we talk about it but we’ll never fully understand the amazing love that You have for us and the care that You gave for us on the cross. Forgive us for letting things that are so inferior take our time and energy and effort. Thank You for making each person here. Thank You for dying for each person here. Thank You that You want us to be connected to You. That You want us to be in love with You and to sense Your presence in our lives and Your power as we serve You. We ask that this would be a day of connection that You would help us connect with You so that others might find that same thing. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.