Portrait Of Biblical, Healthy Next Steps…

next steps (9-16-15)

Post 3 of the Mission & Vision of Elevate Church Mankato…

Please click HERE for Part I and HERE for Part II.

1 Corinthians 3:1-15: Please click HERE

Paul is talking about growth in the passage above; growth of character and integrity, growth of knowing Jesus more intimately/personally/deeply, growth of not having personal opinions but having public beliefs that line up more and more with God’s Word. We were made to grow…but what are we to do in order to grow? Since nly God makes us grow, how can we partner with Him to truly grow, how can we consistently place ourselves in a posture of humility so that we can grow? What are the watering and planting activities that God wants us to be doing on a regular basis?

How will we get to God’s Biblical Vision for this local church?

How will we, over time, truly Elevate God, Elevate Community and Elevate Others?

In other words, how will we grow to become who God made us to be and to do what He made us to do?

I’m going to refrain from only giving you a list of all the good things that Jesus wants us to start doing…

  1. Because LISTS of actions don’t make us grow; the Holy Spirit makes us grow.
  2. Because LISTS can sometimes turn relationships into robotic renditions.
  3. Because you primarily don’t need growing LISTS for King Jesus but a growing LOVE for King Jesus; as we learn to be filled with Him—to receive from Him—we will then and only then be able to give back to Him and give out to others.
  4. But LISTS aren’t all bad either—there are some basic things Christians need to do in order to partner with the Holy Spirit and grow…

Farmers can’t CAUSE seeds to grow but if they do a few simple things the seeds have a VERY high change of growing strong, of producing a harvest: keep the seeds in healthy soil, provide water, provide fertilizer, and keep the plants in the sunshine. I’m not saying doing those things are easy, but they are simple, not complicated.

So let me put it to you as plainly as I can—on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis—that is, think back over the last thirty days, or 365 days—how have you placed yourself in a posture/position to be stretched by Jesus, to be brought out of your comfort zones with the goal of

  1. growing closer to Jesus—receiving His love, instruction and correction? Submitting yourself to King Jesus in such a way that He changes your opinions and beliefs and deeds into active faith that matches up with His revealed Truth?
  1. Having your character match up with His character more and more—having the fruit of the Holy Spirit visible in your daily life?
  1. Putting all others before yourself so that they are introduced to King Jesus through your words and actions? (not good deeds for the sake of good deeds, but loving actions AND words that introduce people to Jesus and tell them what He is offering them [forgiveness of sins, re-birth, transformation, and eternal life!])

What are you and have you been doing to grow like that?

We were made to grow and bear fruit—the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives!!!

  • Are you planting yourself—and staying ROOTED—in the soil of God’s Word regularly?
  • Are you intentionally spending time with other Christians on a regular basis and being sharpened by them spiritually, listening to what the Holy Spirit through the Bible is teaching others and sharing what the Holy Spirit through the Bible is teaching you?
  • Are you putting into practice in your daily lives what the Holy Spirit is teaching you through the Bible? Is Sunday morning an intellectual exercise or a soul-body workout?

In other words, are you growing more like Jesus? What are you doing to partner with the Holy Spirit so that you will grow? It will not happen by your sheer effort, but it also will not happy on accident with you doing nothing different than your non-Christian neighbor down the street…

In my life I have found that when I am…

  1. Attending church regularly and REALLY listening…
  2. Learning to put into practice what I learned at church in my house, local church, and neighborhood…
  3. Connecting with other Christians regularly to dig through the Bible together and do life together…
  4. Sacrificially giving finances back to God though it hurts…

…When God has helped me do those things consistently, those are seasons where I have grown, where I have taken steps toward fulfilling my Father’s vision for my life…

But we must be spiritually conceived and re-born before we can truly grow…

Have you received Jesus as your Savior? (and not just as your “homeboy”)

Have you realized and admitted that you are a sinner hopelessly lost and dead without Jesus?
Do you REALLY believe that? The Bible says so! (Ephesians 2:1-5)

And have you called on the name of Jesus not to make you a better person but to make you a LIVING person, a re-born person, a forgiven person adopted into God’s family? (John 1:9-13)

Have you ever called on Jesus to take you from one who shakes a closed fist at God, or who simply gives God the hand (“whatever–leave me alone!”) to one who raises open hands of worship to God? (John 4:21-24)

THAT MUST be done before we can move on to growing in Christ;
we must first ask through faith to be placed in Christ…

Let’s take a look at these four simple ways of growing in Christ…

Attending Church Regularly

  • What happens if your co-workers or teammates sporadically show up for work, practice or games? It would have a devastating effect on the team, on the goals, on the mission. Why would it have any less of a devastating effect on God’s people, our spiritual growth and fulfilling His mission in our lives if we attend sometimes, when it’s convenient, only when we feel like it? Many Christians, if we look back over the past 52 Sundays, have attended about half the time, maybe 30 or 35 Sundays. While of course there are legitimate reasons why we miss church sometimes, and while no one here is taking attendance, we simply cannot grow if we attend church half the time, just as you wouldn’t learn much if you attended school half the time!

Serving Consistently At Home, At Elevate, AND In Mankato

  • Putting into practice what you are learning from the Bible—don’t just be hearers of the Word but DOERS of the Word!!! (James) Are you learning to worship King Jesus and submit to Him in your residence, this local church and your neighborhood?
  • God wants us to drink deeply of His Word so that it can change our feelings and our actions over time—hearing the Word is grabbing the bottle but putting the Word into practice in your life is believing it and drinking it down! Holding a bottle of water will never quench your physical thirst, and the same is true spiritually! But many of us, without realizing it, we swish God & His Word in our mouths like mouthwash—just for flavor & to make our mouths moist; this gives the illusion of quenching but we’re still dehydrated—we then spit it out when we leave the church building. Friends, we simply will not grow that way! We are still loved if we do that, but we won’t grow if we do that, as individuals and a local church we won’t reach the vision that God has for us, and thus over time we will simply be “playing church,” not being the church.

Participating In A Small Group Intentionally

  • Can anyone get good at any activity, sport, musical instrument, etc. doing it 75 minutes per week? Would we allow our kids to study their school subjects for 75 minutes per week? Then why do we allow ourselves such a small amount of time pursuing God through Bible reading, prayer, and discussing the Bible with other Christians? If we truly want to become who God made us to be and do what God made us to, we will choose to shift the way we spend our time and put as much/more work into forming real intentional community with a small group of other Christians as we put into sports, physical fitness, hobbies, the internet, etc. God is blessing Elevate to have some fantastic groups to plug into this fall:
  • Victory Over the Darkness: In 1 Peter 2:9, God uses four adjectives to describe those who have received Jesus as their Savior: “chosen,” “royal,” “holy,” &“special.” Are you living like the words above are true about YOU? VOTD book will help you to do so!
  • Marriage: Earthly marriage reflects heavenly marriage. As a husband & wife learn how to allow the Holy Spirit to water the lawn of their marriage, others will see what the Holy Spirit wants to do for their lawns as well, if they will let Him! This Sunday night group will show you how!
  • BSF (Bible Study Fellowship): If none of those options work, please plug into BSF at another local church in Mankato! A fantastic way to deepen your depths in God’s Word!
  • Prayer Group: Without prayer, Christians are stuck in neutral while revving our engines loudly. Prayer moves us into drive!!! There is a fantastic prayer group that is meeting on Thursday evenings at 7pm (again, please check out the Connections Desk! 🙂 ). This is a GREAT way to elevate community, elevate others, AND elevate God all at the same time!

Tithing Sacrificially

  • Jesus spoke more about money than He spoke about heaven and hell because money is one of the most powerful idols that Christians face, money is one of the most powerful competitors that often keeps people from reaching their full maturity as a Christ-one. Coffee can stunt the physical growth of children; improperly handling money can do the same spiritually for Christians.
  • Jesus is not as concerned with the size of the sum but with the sincerity of the sacrifice—we honor Jesus when we give til it hurts…and keep on giving.
  • King Solomon’s greatness was shown by the lavish gifts given to him (1 Kings 10:10); Similarly, we show God’s greatness by learning from Him how to lavishly give Him ourselves daily.
  • Give God the “firstchips” of our income: when we open up the bag every two weeks, let Him get the big round ones at the top instead of the smashed crumbs at the bottom.

Please hear me again: I am NOT trying to load up more things for you all to do—there are some who are legitimately in a season of life where there is nothing left to cut out of your schedule! Don’t feel guilty!!!

BUT…I am asking you to really ask God to help you take one more step towards God’s mission & vision for this local church—what is GOD saying to you about serving here if you aren’t already? What is GOD saying to you about giving $2 more per week to Heaven’s Box? What is GOD saying to you about re-prioritizing your time? Ask God, repeatedly, but REALLY listen—don’t say, “God, do you want me to saricifically give finances to You through Elevate?” and then plug your ears!!! J

There is a great market for religious experience in our world;
there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue. –Eugene Peterson

Does democracy exist to the soldier? Can he fight when he wants, sleep when he likes, ground his place according to his fancy? Leonard Ravenhill In other words, do we as Christians get to just do and live and believe whatever WE feel like? NO! Christ is our Master now! We need to learn to submit to Him, even though our selfishness (and American-ness!) wants to bow down to no one)

As Christians, do we get to do what we want when we want? No, my friends…not if we are to grow…

Did the Holy Spirit STIR your soul when we painted a Biblical Portrait of A Healthy Local Church two weeks ago? (please listen to that message if you haven’t—you NEED to know the short & long-term direction of this local church!) If not, please pray for Him to do so! If so, please know that, for Elevate to be that kind of local church, your heart-felt intentions are not enough! We also need actions & steps in the direction where Jesus is leading us! “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” (unknown). YES!

Some thoughts to chew on…

Trials Often Precede Triumph

Only when wood is sufficiently dried out can it be lit on fire.

Perhaps God is drying us out–leading us through the desert–

to ignite us for Him and His fame…don’t let your current dryness–your current difficult times–stop you from knowing, going, and growing, from partnering with God!

Fast from food for two days & you’ll discover the rich flavor of a simple cracker.

God sometimes takes away all we gorge on so we can truly taste Him.

What are you gorging on? Does God want you to fast from that so you can feed on Him?

Dipping in a whirlpool for a minute offers no benefit to sore muscles;

Thinking about Jesus’ love merely for moments each week provides no rest for weary souls.

If David didnt face Goliath,

the incapacitated Israelites & pagan Philistines

wouldnt have seen what God can do

through a person who steps into “hopelessness” with the God of Hope.

Maybe you arent growing closer to Christ

because you’re sitting alone in the parking lot eating cotton candy

when He’s inviting you on the rollercoaster with Him.

Teammates With God

Jesus is the Lightning, I am the bug.

But what a beautiful combination to light up the early Autumn harvest sky in Mankato!

What is at stake?

We will not GROW if we

-do not KNOW that Jesus is God

-will not GO where He leads.

Redwood and sequoia trees…tallest trees on earth, some are 3,000 years old, which means they started growing when King David was ruling in Israel!!!

redwoods (9-16-15)

You would NEVER guess that these little flakes—redwood & sequoia tree seeds (they look like the gold & red flakes in a jar at your table in a pizza restaurant!)—can become the world’s tallest trees! Many of us look at ourselves and think the same–“I could NEVER reach the potential Jesus has for me…HE could never grow me like that!” With God ALL things are possible!!!!

But very few ever reach their maturity—only about 20% of these seeds actually grow, actually reach their full potential! How sad, what a shame, think about what the seeds MISS OUT ON by not growing!

Isaiah 61:3: “They will be called oaks [redwoods & seqouias!] of righteousness,

a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor.”

God has planted us and He wants us to grow so that we will display to the world how amazing HE is! THAT is what’s at stake, and that is SO WORTH partnering with God…so that we can show the world through the changes He has made in us and thus the re-birth and resurrection and rehabilitation that He offers to others…

But we can’t display God’s splendor unless we grow…

And we won’t grow with business as usual but the unusual business of putting ourselves into a posture/position to grow, doing certain basic things to partner with the Holy Spirit…

Are you willing…to grow? Will you partner with the Holy Spirit to drink deeply from the Living Water that He is offering through the Bible, or with this invitation from God being like mouthwash, swished around the mouth for flavor but spat out once we leave the building?