Illus:

God, If You’re Out There….?

“Please go out on the porch and get me the broom,” a mother said to her little girl.

“I don’t want to,” the little girl said.

“Go and get the broom,” the mother repeated.

“But it’s dark out there,” the little girl said. “I’m scared!”

The mom said, “There’s nothing to be afraid of. God is out there.”

The girl went to the door, opened it a crack, and whispered, “God, if You’re out there, could you hand me the broom?”

How real is the presence of God to you?

It’s an important question when we think about being discipled by God. It’s much easier to think about being discipled by a real person than having the faith to believe that God can truly speak into our hearts.

 

This morning we are concluding our series on being discipled by God by looking at Him in the Divine Context. What does that mean exactly?

 

Introduction: Discipleship in the Divine Context

 

This is God’s direct interaction with you through his Holy Spirit.

 

When you tune in to God’s ongoing work in your heart, all of your other relationships will be affected by your movement toward God and toward grace.

 

Honestly, we can hide some things from some people in our lives, but none of us can hide whether or not we have an ongoing, maturing relationship with our Lord. This is made clear in:

 

1 John 1: 6-9…

 

The truth is this: As a disciple of God, God must have reign over your life. He wants every corner of your home, every inch of your skin and every space in your heart—he wants it all!

 

Here’s the deal: He made you…He knows you better than anyone else. So, you might as well give him all of you!

 

And know this: He wants to make your life complete.

 

John 10: 10 (say it with me)…

 

So, as we conclude this series on being discipled by God, let’s look at four core practices that can help us grow as followers of Jesus.

 

Four Core Practices in Divine Discipleship Context

 

  • P­­­­rayer (Matthew 6: 5-6; Philippians 4: 6)

This discipline is interesting because Jesus believed that this would be an automatic thing that his followers would do. Notice what he says in:

Matthew 6: 5-6…

“When you pray…” Notice Jesus didn’t say, “if you pray…” or ask the question, “are you guys praying?”

If you are not spending time in prayer with God (hopefully every day), you are missing out on one of the core aspects of being a follower of Jesus. And you are missing great opportunities to invest in your relationship with the Lord.

Philippians 4: 6 reminds us:

Here’s an idea that might help…it’s called: Prayer Journaling.

Okay, I have a confession. This journaling thing is something I’ve started probably 25 times over the course of my life and for some reason, I’ve struggled continuing it.

When our kids were young we often needed to remind them when they took a bath of this one little item: Don’t forget the soap!

I think that’s been my problem when it comes to journaling.  I didn’t have someone reminding me:

Do not Forget the SOAP:

Begin your Prayer Time with the Word of God

Scripture – Start by writing out the verse or verses that you are focusing on.

Observation – Next, think about the meaning of the Scripture, including anything that especially stood out to you. Ask some questions: Who is the author? Who is the audience? What does the text reveal about God?

Application  – If you took the Scripture you wrote down seriously, what about your life would change? How does this passage change the way you view God?

Prayer – Finally, write out a prayer to God based on what you just learned and ask him to help you apply these truths to your life.

Let’s do a sample journal entry…let’s try Ephesians 2: 8-9

Scripture:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Observation:

Who is the author? Paul. Who is the audience? The Christians in Ephesus. How does this passage change the way I view God? Know matter how I hard I work, I can’t save myself. Salvation is a gift from God.

Application: If I take this Scripture seriously how will it change my life? It changes my life because I can’t keep trying to earn God’s grace. I obey His Word because I love Him, not because I hope if I keep it He will love me…He loves me anyway!

Prayer: Lord, help me to trust the fact that my salvation is truly a gift. Help me to live in your grace daily. May I love you, because you first loved me. Amen.

 

The second core practice is:

 

  • Fasting (Matthew 6: 16)

We talked about this some in the first message in the series as we looked at how Jesus was discipled by his Father. And here’s the deal, Jesus also assumed this would be regular part of their lives.

Matthew 6: 16…

“When you fast…” Not, “if you fast…”

We see fasting throughout the Bible and throughout church history.

By withholding nutrients from your body for a certain period of time, you enable a special focus on the nourishment that comes from God’s voice. It’s not magic; it’s simply a practical way to connect with God.

If you can’t fast from eating because of health reasons, then fast from something else and spend that time with God in prayer.

A third core practice for being in the divine context is:

  • Giving to the Poor (Matthew 6: 3-4)

This is another action that Jesus assumes that his disciples will engage in…

Matthew 6: 3-4…

“When you give to the poor…” Not, “If you give to the poor…”

And this should be more than just writing a check. It can be delivering food boxes. Giving help to a homeless person. You take it to the next level when you personally interact and help the poor.

 

This ministry of giving to the poor falls in line with discipleship by God because through history God has often taught his people by asking them to do something.

James once said that faith without works is dead.

In the book Leap of Faith, authors Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost write:

“Even knowing truths about God is not enough to save – the Pharisees had that all pinned down. No, we must actively risk ourselves to the truth that we believe is true, and this in turn involves staking our lives on the person and promises of God.”

By simply doing what God asks us to do, or even what we think he might want, we learn new ways of thinking.

And the 4th Core principle in being discipled by God is:

 

  • Personal Bible Reading (Psalm 1: 1-2)

 

David speaks directly to what happens to us when we read, meditate and delight in God’s Word…

Psalm 1: 1-2…

When we read God’s Word with the goal of listening to Him, we allow it to affect our lives in all sorts of ways.

Meditating on Scripture has been a part of the life of Christians over the centuries.

One way to meditate on God’s Word is to receive the Scriptures as God’s personal message to you. Read the Word as if you are receiving a personal letter from God.

Jeremiah 29: 11-12: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

Dear Bruce: For I know the plans I have for you,” “I simply want to prosper you. And certainly not harm you. I just want to give you a hope and a future. So call on me…pray to me…I am here listening!

One of the most impactful ways that Scripture can touch your lives is when you learn to read for yourself. And engaging in the Word on a daily basis is so important.

It should be just as important to you as eating and drinking. And you do that every day!

John 6: 32-35…

Application: One of the best lessons we learn when practicing the spiritual disciplines is to approach God as a person, not as a means to an end.