Going Deeper: Are You Hungry?

*Due to technical difficulty, our sermon did not get recorded for 8-12-18

God’s word is not only meant to infiltrate our minds, it’s meant to infiltrate our lives. Learning God’s word should always lead to living God’s word. There’s a difference between knowing and doing. Many of us know what God’s word says, but are we doing what it instructs? We need to hunger and thirst not just for knowledge, but for making a difference in God’s Kingdom as well!

That was our main takeaway from our message yesterday in our continued Radical: Living Differently than the World Expects series. So let me just ask this question. Do you actively try to read the Word of God on a regular basis AND then apply what you read to your life?

Here’s the deal. All to often, people look to the Church as their main source of spiritual food. Whether that be for us individually or expecting the Church to be where our kids get their main source of what it means to follow Jesus. But when you look at the Word of God as a meal (which is an analogy that is found in multiple places in the New Testament), then if you are only feeding when you are at Church, then you are going hungry. Even worse, if that’s the only time you are helping your kids to eat, then your kids are starving.

We need to be in God’s Word daily, because if we are not, then we will have a hard time applying the principles and truths that are found there to our lives. And it isn’t good enough to just be reading His Word without application. Knowledge is not the goal. Knowledge does not feed the soul. Only a deepening relationship with Jesus nourishes the soul, and that happens as we mature in our faith. We mature in our faith by applying what we read to our lives. Do you see how all of this is connected?

There was many years that I didn’t get this right. I expected to be fed by the Church and didn’t proactively try to feed myself. But the Church gets to see you maybe 4-5 hours a week. That is if you attend every single function that is available. If we aren’t feeding ourselves outside of this time, then we potentially starve.

Why is this important? Because we can deceive ourselves into thinking that we are on the narrow path that leads to life since we made a decision to be baptized sometime in our life. We think that decision is enough and we don’t have to grow in our relationship with Jesus. But that is simply not the case. Jesus warned in Matthew 7 that there were going to be those in the last days that thought they were on the narrow path, but would be told in the end to depart from Jesus because He never knew them. Matthew 7:21-23;

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

How do we do the will of God? By learning His Word and applying it. By devouring His Word. By becoming hungry not just for the knowledge found in Scripture, but for the life-giving change that we find there when we start living our the principles found in God’s Word.

I thought about challenging our faith family to read a certain amount of Scripture in a certain amount of time. There are many different plans, such as reading the Bible in a year. Or an even more audacious plan of trying to read the entire Bible in 90 Days (one that I have tried many times and failed), or even reading the New Testament in 30 Days. There is nothing wrong with any of these plans. But I chose not to make a specific challenge. I get that everyone has different reading levels, skills, and comprehension. I didn’t want someone to feel obligated to finish a reading plan just to say that they read it without necessarily getting anything out of it.

So my challenge is just to be in the Word daily. Develop a hunger for it. And then do everything you can do to apply it. Again, knowledge is not the goal. Life change and becoming more and more like Jesus on a daily basis is the goal. James 1:22-25

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

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Going Deeper

We started a new series yesterday titled “Radical: Living Differently Than the World Expects”.

Radical Instagram

Radical BookThe base for the series is a book by David Platt, Radical. I read this book years ago, and honestly, at first I wasn’t real sure about how I felt. That’s because what is described as radical living in this book is really just how Christians are supposed to live anyway. There really isn’t anything radical about it. That is until I realized that I don’t know very many people, myself included, that actually live up to what Jesus says His disciples will be.

While we are using this book as the jumping off point in the series, the sermon content is not coming from the book. So, as a supplement to our messages, I would recommend reading the book on your own if you are interested in going a little deeper. You can order it here.

In this first message, I posed a question that I think is at the heart of our discussion, and I’ll begin with that here as well. What, if anything, has following Jesus cost you? All too often in our American culture, following Jesus doesn’t really cost us anything. Yes, we may get laughed at or told that we are only using Jesus as a “crutch”because we can’t deal with life on our own. But that really isn’t very costly, is it?

Jesus told His disciples that following Him would cost them their lives. And it should cost us ours as well. No, I’m not talking about physically dying because we are a Christ follower, although that may be the case for some of us. But we are to die to our own desires daily. We have to surrender our will for that of Jesus in our lives. And that is a daily decision.

We all have things in our lives that we unfortunately seem to place in front of God or Jesus. And it is different for each of us. What we need to do is to identify those things and lay them at Jesus feet, and make Him our top priority. He demands nothing less. That is exactly what our main text for this message states. In Luke 14:25-33, Jesus lays out very plainly what it means to follow Him and be a true disciple. He says you must hate your father and mother, your siblings, even yourself, and, you must carry your cross and follow Him. And if you can’t do that, then you cannot be His disciple.

What does He mean by hating your family and even yourself? Are we really supposed to hate them? Can we really have nothing to do with them? Absolutely not! But what Jesus is showing us here is that we cannot put anything in front of our love and devotion to Him. He must be our first and most important priority, meaning that in our love for Him, our relationships with others pale in comparison. In other words; Our love for Jesus should take priority above all others in our lives!

That may cost us dearly at times. Friends and family may not understand this. It may hurt our relationships with them, especially if they are not Christ followers. This may make what we choose for a career or hobbies different than what we would actually choose on our own. Following Jesus, and by that I mean truly following Jesus the way that He wants, is a costly thing. His disciples got that. They left everything to follow Him. Read Matthew 4:18-22, which is one of the accounts of the calling of His first disciples. They left family, friends, and careers to follow Him. And they were never the same.

Sometimes we have to die to ourselves daily, even hourly, because in our human nature we keep falling back to what we want instead of keeping Jesus our number one priority. So, we have to keep coming back and dying to ourselves. And that is exactly what He calls us to do. In Luke 9:23-26, Jesus states;

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Deny yourself and take up your cross daily. You don’t do that for yourself. You do that because you want to follow Jesus. You do that because He is your number one priority. Is it difficult? Absolutely! But you know what else it is? It is so worth it because He is so worth it!

I’ll leave you with this for now. Read this section of Paul’s letter to the Philippians (Chapter 3). Paul knew what it meant to follow Jesus. He knew what it cost. And he knew it was better by far than anything he knew before.

Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowingChrist Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

I’ll pose the question again. And I want you to really think through it. Because your answer to this question may show you exactly where you stand in how you have been following Jesus. What, if anything, has following Jesus cost you?

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