Last Sunday’s sermon at RSBC was titled: Church, Be Grateful and Gritty.
In the weeks leading up to the sermon I felt led by the Holy Spirit to preach through 1 Timothy 4 as a clear call away from apathy, stagnant faith, excuse making, and lazy spiritual living. Paul’s emphasis in v.6-16 is on focused, deliberate, persistent, non-compromising efforts to grow in godliness. I called this putting forth a “gritty” effort in our spiritual lives (as opposed to unfocused, lack-luster, lazy, limp, wishy-washy, etc.).
You can listen to the sermon [ HERE ].
Toward the end of the sermon I chose to stop preaching and give space for a time of repentance and prayer. I also promised to make the following application ideas available because they represent the rubber-meeting-road gritty practices that the text calls us to pursue.
TRAINING FOR GRITTY CHRISTIANS
“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths” v.7.
#1: Get gritty about not wasting your time.
“We have our hope set on the living God” v.10.
#2: Get gritty about guiding your thinking towards God.
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example” v.12.
#3: Get gritty about focusing on progress rather than excusing weakness.
“Being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine” v.6.
“Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture” v.13.
#4: Get gritty about knowing God’s Word.
“Do not neglect the gift you have…so that all may see your progress…you will save both yourself and your hearers” v.14-16.
#5: Get gritty about giving your life away for the glory of Jesus.
THE PROMISE: A life that matters today and forever.
“Train yourself for godliness…godliness is of value in every way, as it hold promise for the present life and also for the life to come” v.7-8.
These questions were shared during the sermon as a way to examine how we are receiving and using the things of earth, to honor or dishonor Jesus.
1. Does my enjoyment of creation lead me to smile with God or feel ashamed before Him?
2. Does my enjoyment of creation harden my heart to others or draw me toward loving others?
3. Am I fixated on or gripped by anything in creation or culture in a way that competes with or quenches my joy in God?
4. Am I allowing the imperfections or difficulties in my life to lead me to embrace ungodly attitudes or actions?
Church, let us strive to crush stagnant, bored, exhausted faith with persistent, gritty, God-dependent efforts to grow in godliness!
by: Thomas Gold
Thomas is a pastor at RSBC. He yearns to join others in fighting for freedom from internal and external evil and pain. He is married to Janice and happy to be raising their six children together.
Prayer kicks my butt.
I am not the prayer warrior that I would like to be.
How about you?
People ask me to pray for things and if I don’t stop right then and there to pray, I will forget. No question about it. I can easily fall into the habit of “present your requests to God,” but forget the whole “with thanksgiving” part of Philippians 4:6. I easily get scared because of the hopefulness that prayer creates. How about you?
Real, raw prayer intimidates me. And honestly, I think it should. We (me included) shouldn’t be so lackadaisical about our prayers. When we pray, we are connecting with, reaching for, and tapping into the power of Heaven. We are asking God to work in us, through us and around us. I’m not saying we should be so intimidated that you don’t pray at all but we should approach prayer with far more reverence than we do.
JESUS, TEACH US TO PRAY
In Luke 11, one of the disciples ask Jesus to teach him to pray. I recently listened to a sermon on prayer and the speaker said Luke 11:1 is the only time in Scripture that the disciples actually ask Jesus to teach them something. How powerful is that?!? These guys witnessed miracles, but they aren’t asking Jesus how to do those. They’re asking how to pray. They understood the power of prayer and knew that miracles were fueled by it. There is a reverence in that request. Reverence for who God is and what He is capable of and what His mission is, not theirs.
I think that’s where powerful prayer starts. Reverence for the One to whom you are presenting your requests. For me, reverence starts when I really take time to examine who He is. Philippians 4:4 starts with “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Luke 11:2 (where Jesus is teaching his disciples to pray) says “Father, hallowed be your name.” Both of these verses encourage us to start our prayers honoring God and speaking back to Him of His goodness.
SAME PRAYING, NEW PATH
I know a lot of people have prayer journals where they write out their requests to God. I have started numerous journals, and that is a great thing! But for me, I saw a drastic shift in my prayer life when I started a praise journal. Whether my heart is heavy with a need or I am just going through life and things feel normal, I have started sitting down with a notebook and writing out all I can think of that is praiseworthy about God.
Some days, it’s really hard to start and other days the words just flow, but I have learned that as I worship God by speaking truth about Him, to Him and to my heart, my focus shifts. The aches of my heart don’t seem so heavy in light of who God is. All of the things I would normally ‘present as requests to God’ don’t seem so huge. My eyes turn to Him and I see His goodness towards me. I will still spend time praying those requests but the atmosphere of that time of asking feels very different.
There is joy in the request when I remember the goodness of the One I am presenting my requests too, rather than feeling forgotten in my need. It’s a beautiful transformation.
So I invite you: in the next 24 hours join me on a praise journey with a praise notebook.
a) Plan: Set aside 10 minutes with paper and pen.
b) Write: Start listing out God’s goodness.
c) Praise: Tell Him who He is and also remind yourself.
I’ll help you get started: He is the King of Kings, Creator of the sun and the wind, Power and Glory, Majestic, Giver of every breath I take, a Safe Place, the Mover of Mountains, Merciful Savior, my Lord, and I love Him. That's where I start with Him. How about you?
by: Nikki Watermolen
Nikki has been a faithful attendee at RSBC since its inception. She eagerly worships Jesus in the church body using gifts of music, hospitality, and caring for women and girls of all ages.
Our adversary, the devil, would have us believe that humanity must make a choice between these two things: honoring God or being happy.
And because this line of thinking is so prevalent, the question that naturally gets asked is: "do you want to be holy or do you want to be happy?"
This question is common, as people of all bents spend time grappling with the answer, because happiness and peace with God seem to be embedded in our very nature. Is one of these desires right and the other wrong? Is one good and the other bad? Is one the offspring of our new nature and the other the spawn of our old? The war rages on in our minds and people are caught in the middle of a war that was never intended to be.
Think about movies, TV shows, and advertisements that are prevalent today. Read lyrics to songs like “Livin’ in Sin” by Dan Auerbach:
I'll bite, into something that feels right
What we see clearly is a culture that unmistakably pins happiness against holiness, as if they are rivals of one another. And because of this, it should be no surprise to Christians that in the eyes of a secular culture it’s impossible to be both happy and holy. So, the assertion gets made that people must make a choice between happiness and holiness, and the choice that is so often sold as the most obvious—the choice that most frequently gets the final word—is happiness.
"If it feels right then it is right. Follow your heart. Do whatever makes you happy. Don’t settle for anything less than what you desire the most."
These are the kinds of cheers we hear from secular culture. The hedonistic battle cries of people whose hope is placed firmly on the flimsy versions of happiness they are able to manufacture in the midst of a broken and fallen world. But this is not the world God intended for humanity nor is it the world he desires for humanity.
Sadly, the Church is guilty of propagating a very similar misnomer; though likely in less intentional ways. Instead of elevating happiness over holiness (though some churches certainly do) the Church has instead, over the centuries, exalted holiness over happiness. The narrative has been perpetuated that somehow God cares more about a Christian’s holiness than he does their joy. The church’s cheers aren’t usually as blatantly dismissive or indifferent of God's Word, but subtle as they are the errant theology can be just as harmful to the Christian and the world at large.
When churches elevate the pursuit of godliness over the pursuit of joy, consequently they are making a truth claim that simply isn’t biblical. And though the intentions of these claims may be noble, we know that what is intended and what is achieved are two very different realities.
The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God is actively at work, in the lives of Christians, as the chief architect and cheerleader of our holiness (sanctification) and our joy; and both of these things are intended to be found in his presence not apart from him.
 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Therefore, Christians are not left to make a choice between happiness and holiness, but rather are invited to choose both and to choose them both in their purest, deepest, and richest forms; in the person and the work of Jesus Christ.
A man who sets his heart and mind firmly and fully on Christ, will not only be marked by his growth in holiness but will also be blessed with a deeper experience of joy. This is what God offers to the Christian and this is what God desires us to experience in our renewed mind and our restored relationship with him.
But knowing truth is only half the battle. Genuine faith in God's Word means that a truth known should lead to a truth lived. Faith leads to action and action is a crucial step to a Christian's ability to experience the joy of godliness.
What good does it do a man to know truth, if that truth doesn't somehow alter how he chooses to live? James says, “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22).
We must not only learn rich truths from God’s Word, but we must also put these truths into practice in our everyday lives. Much of scripture leads us to the understanding that Christians should be the most joyful people on earth. Does this mean that Christians won’t have difficulties, or trials, or earth-shattering tragedies that interrupt their lives and cause them to experience immeasurable amounts of pain? No way! Jesus told his disciples, "in this world you WILL have troubles." However, he also encouraged them with this truth, "take heart, for I have overcome the world."
The apostle Paul (who knew affliction) gives us these words to be champions for our joy:
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. | 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Now, let's be clear, Paul is in no way suggesting that our afflictions will always “feel” trifling or insignificant. He knows affliction far too well (and far too personally) to make that claim. Paul was writing as a man who had very intense and very real and very personal experiences with affliction (see 2 Cor. 11:16-33). Paul's appeal is based on an appraisal of the momentary afflictions he faced (as a Christian) vs. the eternal glory provided to him by the Father, purchased for him by the Son, and protected for him by the Holy Spirit. Paul said, the joy of my salvation and my future glory far surpasses the momentary and temporal pain I am feeling--to such an extent--that I can honestly say with assurance and confidence that it's beyond all comparison.
Friends, this is the joy God invites Christians into, through the person and work of Jesus Christ, and this is the joy God desires for Christians to know and experience. A joy filled with hopeful expectation and a joy that will make all other joys pale in comparison to God’s best.
This reality leaves Christians with decisions to make in the here and now. Will we settle for momentary gratification or eternal joy? God is inviting us into the fullest joy imaginable--a joy that far outlasts the transient (brief) pleasures the world can offer. God offers Christians, in himself, joy that lasts for eternity. The world can only entice us with cheap and futile imitations, but they will always take far more from us then they can ever give to us.