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Sermon1- 10Sep06-1of3RecoveringYourLostSpiritualVitaliy(RWReconnecting withGodPart 1)

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RECOVERING YOUR LOST SPIRITUAL VITALITY

Reconnecting With God

Part 1 of 4

Rick Warren

September 1-2, 2001

 

 

“O God, do not be so distant from me.”  Psalm 71:12 (LB)

The Miracle of the Floating Axe Head

“One day the group of prophets that Elisha was in charge of complained to him, ‘The place where we live is too small!  Give us permission to go to the Jordan and cut down some trees, so we can build a place to live,’  ‘All right,’ Elisha answered...  When they arrived at the Jordan, they began to work.  As one of them was cutting down a tree, suddenly his iron axe head fell in the water.  ‘What shall I do, sir?’ he exclaimed to Elisha.  ‘It was a borrowed axe!’  ‘Where did it fall?’  Elisha asked.  The man showed him the place, and Elisha cut off a stick, threw it in the water, and made the axe head float!  ‘Take it out,’ he ordered, and the man reached down and picked it up!”  2 Kings 6:1-7 (GN)

WHEN YOU’VE LOST YOUR CUTTING EDGE...

1.  ADMIT ____________________________________________________________

       “As one of them was cutting down a tree, suddenly his iron axe head fell in the water.  What shall I do, sir?’ he exclaimed to Elisha.  ‘It was a borrowed axe!’”  2 Kings 6:5 (GN)

       ”The love you had at first is gone.  Remember how far you have fallen.  Return to Me and change the way you think and act, and do what you did at first.”  Rev. 2:4-5 (GW)

       “I had almost stopped believing: I had almost lost my faith.”  Ps 73:2 (NCV)

2.  ACKNOWLEDGE  ________________________________________

“Where did it fall in?’  Elisha asked.  The man showed him the exact place...”

2 Kings 6:6a (GN)

Causes:

                                                ___ Distractions/Busyness

                                                ___ Disobedience – not doing what you know God wants

                                                ___ Relying on your own power/Pride

                                                ___ Carelessness/Laziness


3.  EXPECT ____________________________________________________________

“... so Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the water at that spot.  The ax head floated to the top of the water.”  2 Kings 6:6b (CEV)

            “Humanly speaking, it is impossible.  But with God everything is possible.”

 Matt. 19:26 (NLT)

       “The Lord says, ‘If you return to Me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve Me.’”  Jer. 15:19 (NLT)

4.  REACH OUT ____________________________________________________________

       “Now get it,’ Elisha told him.  And the prophet reached in and grabbed it.” 

2 Kings 6:6b-7 (CEV)

       “I long to be able to enter your courtyard and come near to the Living God.” 

Psalm 84:2 (Mes)

       “Now bring us back to loving You, O Lord.”  Psalm 85:4

       “Give me back the joy of Your salvation.”  Ps. 51:12 (NCV)

“My friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God's truth, don’t write them off.  Go after them!  Get them back.”  James 5:19 (CEV)

Who do I need to help reconnect with God this week?

_______________________________________


                           RECOVERING YOUR LOST SPIRITUAL VITALITY

Reconnecting With God

Part 1 of  3

Week 1- September 10, 2006                          1768 words

 

This morning and for the next two Sundays we’re going to be looking at this passage It’s a mini-series that will take us up to Harvest Thanksgiving. So, there are three parts to it and I intend to finish the final part by celebrating with informal communion at the end of the service so that if anyone would prefer to leave they can do so.

The title for the series is called “Reconnecting With God”.  So let’s make a start.

I’ve been a Christian for almost 20 years now and I’ve discovered that it’s very easy to fall into a spiritual slump.  You go through what I call the wilderness experience; spiritual dry spells.  Times when you don’t feel close to God, when your heart is cold, when you feel empty inside, when you think your prayers are kind of bouncing off the ceiling.  Every one of us go through these times when we feel disconnected with God.  We feel like David in Psalm 71 “O God, do not be so distant from me.”  We all go through these dry spells and we recognize that we’re not as close as we use to be to God. 

When you’re going through a dry spell, when you’re going through a spiritual slump you don’t lose your salvation.  But you do lose the joy of it.  You lose the happiness.  You lose the peace.  You lose the confidence.  You lose the closeness that you felt to God.  And you feel kind of dry and empty and dusty inside. 

One of the things that causes you to go through spiritual slumps is what I call getting into a spiritual rut.  That’s when everything in your life becomes predictable, even your spiritual life.  A routine replaces your relationship with God.  You do things.  You go to church because it’s time to go to church.  Whether you feel it or not you just do it.  You read your Bible because it’s the thing to do.  You end up getting in this rut where everything in your life is predictable.  You pray the same old prayers over and over.  The same prayer at meals every day.  Sometimes the routine of what we do means we become disconnected in our relationship with God.

What do you do when you feel disconnected with God?  What do you do when you’ve lost your spiritual vitality?  What do you do when you’ve lost your cutting edge?

The story we’ve just read together in 2 Kings 6, is the miracle of the lost axe head.  It’s a very bizarre story.  It has some spiritual truths that we want to look at.  Every miracle is a parable.  Every parable is a miracle.  When God puts miracles in the Bible He wants to teach us spiritual truths.

2 Kings 6, “One day the group of prophets that Elisha was in charge of complained to him, ‘The place where we live is too small!  Give us permission to go to the Jordan and cut down some trees, so we can build a place to live,’  ‘All right,’ Elisha answered... when they arrived at the Jordan, they began to work.  As one of them was cutting down a tree, suddenly his iron axe head fell in the water.  [As he was chopping down a tree the cutting edge flew off the handle and went into the Jordan River and sunk.  This really upset the guy for a couple reasons.  One, in Bible days iron was very rare.  An iron tool was even more rare.  And two, it was borrowed.  So

he was very upset that he had lost his cutting edge.  Notice what he did...]  ‘What shall I do, sir?’ he exclaimed to Elisha.  ‘It was a borrowed axe!’  ‘Where did it fall?’  Elisha asked.  The man showed him the place, and Elisha cut off a stick, threw it in the water, and made the axe head float!  [You’ve got to admit, that’s pretty bizarre!]  ‘Take it out,’ he ordered, and the man reached down and picked it up!”

Why is that story of a floating axe head in the Bible?  I would want to say that it teaches four spiritual truths on what to do when you’ve lost your cutting edge.  While this is a real axe head, it also represents spiritual power in your life.  It’s a symbol of spiritual power. 

What do you do when you’re in a spiritual slump?  You’re going through a spiritual desert, a dry spell.  You don’t feel close to God.  You don’t feel His presence in your life.  You feel like your prayers aren’t getting above the ceiling.  You feel empty inside.  You have lost your cutting edge.  What do you do?  You do the four things the man did in this story of the lost axe head.  We’ll cover the first one this morning.

 

1.  You admit you lost it. 

You just stop living in denial and you face reality.  You admit you’re just not as close to God as you used to be.  Notice what this man did 2 Kings 6:5, “As one of them was cutting down a tree, suddenly his iron axe head fell in the water.  ‘  What shall I do, sir?’ he exclaimed to Elisha.  ‘It was a borrowed axe!’” 

The first thing he does is he admits it.  He confesses it to somebody else.  He didn’t have to do that.  When he lost the axe head on his axe which represented power and his ability to get the job done he could have done a couple things. 

            First, he could have used it for an excuse to quit working all together.  “I lost my cutting edge.  I’ll just let somebody else do the work.”  I’ve met Christians like that.  “I’m not as close to God as I used to be.  I’ll just let somebody else do the serving now.  I deserve a break.  I’m tired.  I’ve done my part.  I’ve been close to God in the past.  Now I’m just going to back off and coast along and let somebody else be on fire for God.  Let them take the cutting edge in ministry.”  He didn’t do that.

            The other thing he didn’t do which he could have done was he could have pretended that he still had it.  He could have been chopping with no axe head.  “Maybe if I keep moving up and down nobody will notice that I’ve lost my cutting edge.  I'll keep on going through the motions and pretending it’s ok and not let any of my Christian friends know that I don’t have it any more.  I’ve lost it.  I don’t want to admit it.  I don’t want to admit that I’m not close to God anymore, that I’ve lost my power in life.  I'll just keep on working furiously and frantically going through the motions,” which is a lot of sweat and no productivity. 

The saddest thing, the most tragic sight is a Christian who’s lost his/her cutting edge and still going through the motions.  They’re pretending like they’re close to God when they’re not.  That’s tragic.  In fact, I think the saddest verse in the Bible is the one about Samson where it says, he’d lost all his power but he didn’t know it. If you remember, we looked at that two weeks ago

Have you lost your cutting edge?  Are you in a spiritual slump?  How do you know when you’ve lost our cutting edge?  A couple things: 

             One, you start losing your love.  Things don’t move you any more.  They don’t touch your heart any more.  Your heart grows cold.  You can sit through service after service and it’s not touching you, it’s not moving you.  You heart has grown cold.  You’ve lost the fire.  You’ve lost the spark in your life.  You’ve lost your first love for Jesus Christ.  Jesus said this in Revelation 2 “The love that you had at first is gone.  Remember how far you have fallen.  Return to Me and change the way you think and act and do what you did at first.”  He said you’ve lost your love for Me.  What happens when you’re in a spiritual slump?  All of a sudden, serving God becomes not a delight but a duty.  You do it because it’s the right thing to do but there’s no joy in it, there’s no energy in it, there’s no excitement in it. 

            The second thing I lose is my faith the longer I’m in a spiritual slump.  In Psalm 73, David said, “I had almost stopped believing.  I had almost lost my faith.” What do you do in a spiritual slump?  You stop taking risks.  Your vision shrinks.  You lose your vision for what God wants to do in your life.  You stop taking risks.  You start playing the safe side, being predictable, settling for second best, being an also ran.  You’re not stretching, you’re not growing, you’re not reaching out in faith.  So, you just kind of back off and live this comfortable little existence.  “I’m a Christian but I’m just not close to God.” 

Some of you are perhaps like this right now.  You’ve nearly lost all your love or you’ve nearly lost all your faith.  You may feel beaten up.  Circumstances have beaten you up.  Other people have beaten you up.  Problems have hassled you.  And you have just lost the joy. 

Has there ever been a time in your life when you were closer to God than you are right now?  If the answer is yes, my next question is, What are you going to do about it?  Are you just going to settle for second best?  Is it a case of : “I know I’m not where I ought to be.  I’m not close to God.  I don’t feel His presence in my life.  But I'll just settle for second best.”  That’s no way to live!  The first step in reconnecting with God, getting out of that dry spell is just admit it.  It’s the most difficult step.  To humbly say, “I’ve lost it.  I’ve lost my connection to You.  I don’t feel close to You any more like I used to.  I’ve lost the joy.  I’ve lost the enthusiasm.  I’ve lost my cutting edge and I need it back.”  If that’s you today then you need to start by saying, “God, re-ignite the passion in my heart.  I’ve lost the passion for the Christian life, living for You.  Re-ignite the fire.  Light the fire again.  Warm up my cold heart.  I’m begging You.  God!  Light the fire again in my soul.”

Admit it.  That’s the first step.  God, I’m not as close to You as I used to be.  My heart has grown cold.  Things don’t move me like they used to.  I need You to light the fire again in my heart.  I need the passion back.  I need to feel Your presence in my life.  Admit it.

Let’s pray

H/F Often the hardest thing to do is to admit that we fall short in our relationship with you – that’s it’s not all it can be or should be because life tends to be full of so many distractions and things that seem more important but are not. But we pray that you would stick with us and continue to love us, and we also pray that you begin to have your way in our lives; that you would purify our hearts and set us apart for you Lord, so that we would be ready to do your will. Open our hearts and cleanse us from our waywardness so that we become fit to receive your grace. This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen

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