Intro to Series
June 30, 2019
Theme: The deepest desire of our heart is a longing for God; however, we can’t always name it as such. Sometimes our spiritual life gets out of focus and before long the out of focus life becomes a new normal. We often try to separate our spiritual life from the rest of our life. However, our spiritual life in intricately woven into every part of our life family, career, leisure, friendship, etc. We are spiritual beings, but we do not always attend to the spiritual. We need to be more intentionally active in cultivating our spiritual life. We need to create conditions which allow for spiritual transformation to occur. Spiritual transformation will help us name the deep longing in our heart.
Scripture: John 10:1-10 (NRSV) 1 “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.7 So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
July 7, 2019
Theme: Jesus sets a great example of going off to a deserted place to prayer. Prayer more than anything else is about relationship. Monologue prayers of requests and suggestions do not deepen relationship with God. We must find time to be silent before God so that we might hear from God. Prayer can lead to intimacy with God which is scary for some people. Intimacy requires something of us. It requires we give something to the relationship. Often the way we relate to God is patterned after the way we relate to each other. Cultivating a quieter way of praying greatly increases our opportunity of transformation, a deeper relationship with God and the discovery of the deepest desires of our heart.
Scripture: Mark 1:35-39 (NRSV) 35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37 When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38 He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” 39 And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
July 14, 2019
Theme: If the deepest desire of our heart is to know God and be in relationship with God, then the Bible is best place for that relationship to begin. The Bible is the story of God desire to be with people. The Bible was not meant to be a history book, it was not meant to be a science book, nor was it meant to just convey information. It is for transformation and simply information. I’m not a fan of reading through the Bible in a Year programs. Besides the goal becomes getting it read in 365 days. The primary goal of reading the Bible should always be a better understanding of God and a deeper relationship with God. Practicing Lectio divina is the best way for us to read scripture.
Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:10-17 (NRSV) 10 Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions, and my suffering the things that happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But wicked people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, 15 and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is inspired by God and is[a] useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.
July 21, 2019
Theme: Can you recognize God’s presence or experience God’s Spirit connecting with your spirit? That is call discernment. If you look up the word “discern” or “discernment” in a thesaurus you get words like “distinguish” or “determine” or “detect” or “recognize.”When I talk about discernment, I’m talking about the ability to recognize God’s voice to be able to distinguish God’s voice from among all the noise in our lives. Can we not only detect God’s voice, but also determine what God is saying to us? We can’t force discernment, there is not formula or magic words, but we can find ways of opening ourselves up to it. The capacity to discern arises out of our relationship with God. Our relationship with God is cultivated through spiritual practices. The practice of discernment begins with a prayer of indifference, not indifference as in apathy or not caring. It means I’m indifferent to anything but God’s will which is openness to God where I am free from undue attachment to any particular outcome.
There are three foundational building blocks to discernment:
- Belief I the goodness of God
- Belief that love is out primary calling
- Belief that God communicates with us through the Holy Spirit.
Scripture: John 10:14-18 (NRSV) 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.