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Going Deeper

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     As I was preparing to write this sermon, I began to think about the Holiday, and how we hold great store in our founding fathers. How they were willing to fight, and how they gave their all for what we call the United States today. I then began to think about today and how many people we have who are of the caliber and magnitude of our founding fathers. Our country was founded by people who were willing to put feet on what they believed, and were willing to fight and die for what they stood for. I look at our country today, and I think about her troubles, and how different it would be if people really got involved and spent themselves for her, instead of simply complaining about the state of affairs and then sit by and watch as special interest groups and privately funded lobbyists pull the rug out from under our nation.

     I then began to thing of our faith. I began to compare her with the state of our nation, and it struck me how similar they were in apathy and luke-warmness; how similar they were in their deterioration and lack of commitment.

     I think of George Washington and what he would say about our nation today, and then I think about the Apostle Paul, and Peter, and what they would say about our church, and I think to myself, where are the caliber of these men today, and how much would be different if we had these caliber of men today.

     As with our commitment to our nation, our faith needs to go more than skin deep. Our church is foundering and struggling with issues today that are brought about by special interest groups and she is being bombarded by those who would lobby Her to compromise on issues that, if compromised, would weaken Her and cause Her to bend her knee in a time when she is more than ever called by God to stand strong. What the church needs is fewer surface Christians, and more men and women who are committed and strong in their faith, who are in it up to their necks, but are willing to give all that they have and are for the cause of Christ and fight the good fight of faith. The church needs those willing to stand up and be counted for what they believe. The church needs those who are no longer content to be surface Christians, but are willing to go deeper in their faith, until they can be looked upon as the caliber of people who would be the Paul and Peters of today.

     Let us look at the depth scale today, and see where we are, or need to be in relation to our faith today.  First of all:

I.     There is the Level of Lip Service

                -talking the talk

-Concerned with the here and now. What can I say that will advance my position or what people think of me now.

                - the concern, many times, is with what people think.

A.   there is a forked tongue

New American Standard Bible

Matthew 21:28 through Matthew 21:30 (NASB) 28“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ 29“And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. 30“The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go.

***We as a nation too often lack integrity, which might be described, in a loose and colloquial way, as the courage of one's convictions.

   We, the people of the United States, who a little over 200 years ago ordained and established the Constitution, have a serious problem: too many of us nowadays neither mean what we say nor say what we mean. Moreover, we hardly expect anybody else to mean what they say either.

   -- Stephen L. Carter in IntegrityChristianity Today, Vol. 40, no. 12.

B.   there are those who talk straight

New American Standard Bible

Proverbs 12:17 through Proverbs 12:19 (NASB)

17          He who speaks truth tells what is right,

            But a false witness, deceit.

18  There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword,

     But the tongue of the wise brings healing.

19  Truthful lips will be established forever,

     But a lying tongue is only for a moment.

***In the classroom setting of one Peanuts comic strip, on the first day of the new school year, the students were told to write an essay about returning to class. In her essay Lucy wrote, "Vacations are nice, but it's good to get back to school. There is nothing more satisfying or challenging than education, and I look forward to a year of expanding knowledge."

   Needless to say, the teacher was pleased with Lucy and complimented her fine essay. In the final frame, Lucy leans over and whispers to Charlie Brown, "After a while, you learn what sells."

   The temptation to say "what sells," what others want to hear whether it is true or not, is always with us. When we give in to that temptation, what we really sell is the integrity of our souls. When we resist, Christ can say of us as he did of Nathaniel, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile" (John 1:47 KJV).

   -- William M. Nieporte in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.

II.   There is the Level of Life's Submission

-walking the walk

A.   Confirming the talk

New American Standard Bible

Ephesians 5:6 through Ephesians 5:16 (NASB) 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9(for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14For this reason it says,

     “Awake, sleeper,

     And arise from the dead,

     And Christ will shine on you.”

15Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

***Charles Swindoll, in Growing Deep in the Christian Life, tells about a man who bought fried chicken dinners for himself and his date late one afternoon. The attendant at the fast food outlet, however, inadvertently gave him the proceeds from the day's business--a bucket of money (much of it cash) instead of fried chicken. Swindoll writes:

   "After driving to their picnic site, the two of them sat down to enjoy some chicken. They discovered a whole lot more than chicken--over $800! But he was unusual. He quickly put the money back in the bag. They got back into the car and drove all the way back. By then, the manager was frantic.

   "Mr. Clean got out, walked in, and became an instant hero. 'I want you to know I came by to get a couple of chicken dinners and wound up with all this money here.'

   "Well, the manager was thrilled to death. He said, 'Let me call the newspaper. I'm gonna have your picture put in the local paper. You're one of the most honest men I've ever heard of.'

   "To which the man quickly responded, 'Oh, no. No, no, don't do that!' Then he leaned closer and whispered, 'You see, the woman I'm with--she's, uh, somebody else's wife.' "

   One can be honest and still not have integrity.

B.   Conforming to the Word.

New American Standard Bible

1 Timothy 6:17 through 1 Timothy 6:19 (NASB) 17Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

***Let not thy Word, O Lord, become a judgement upon us, that we hear it and do it not, that we believe it and obey it not.

   -- Attributed to Thomas a Kempis.  Christianity Today, Vol. 37, no. 3.

New American Standard Bible

John 14:23 (NASB) 23Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.

-Today, many would go so far to say that we cannot keep God's word. If that is the case, we cannot love Jesus.

III.   There is the Level of Love's Surrender

A.   Giving Your Life to Jesus

- Like writing a will, all things are surrendered to Christ.

New American Standard Bible

Philippians 3:7 through Philippians 3:8 (NASB) 7But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,

What can I give Him,

   Poor as I am?

   ***If I were a shepherd,

   I would bring a lamb,

   If I were a Wise Man,

   I would do my part,--

   Yet what can I give Him?

   Give my heart.

   -- Christina Rosetti, "A Christmas Carol." Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 14.

***When my daughter Aimee was in nursery school, she'd come home each day with drawings, collages, and other projects. Next to her own name she'd scrawl the name of someone she loved--usually Mommy or Daddy, sometimes baby brother Ben. "I did this for you," she'd proudly say.

   As I reflect on this, I remember the apostle Paul's exhortation, "Whatever you do ... do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Col. 3:17). If Aimee could do every school project for me or for her dad, surely I can do my "projects" for my heavenly Father. Now I often ask myself, Have I written my Lord's name on all I've have done today?

   -- Laura DuVall Bush, New Britain, CT, Today's Christian Woman, "Heart to Heart."

B.   Living Your Life Through Jesus

New American Standard Bible

Romans 12:1 through Romans 12:3 (NASB) 1Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Philippians 1:21 (NASB) 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Galatians 2:20 (NASB) 20“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

***The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by. The saint is the man who walks through the dark paths of the world, himself a light.

   -- Felix Adler, quoted in Daily Guideposts (1996). Christianity Today, Vol. 40, no. 7.



The core problem is not that we are too passionate about bad things, but that we are not passionate enough about good things.

   -- Larry Crabb.  Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 2.

True spirituality manifests itself in certain dominant desires.

   1. First is the desire to be holy rather than happy.

   2. A man may be considered spiritual when he wants to see the honor of God advanced through his life even if it means that he himself must suffer temporary dishonor or loss.

   3. The spiritual man wants to carry his cross.

   4. Again, a Christian is spiritual when he sees everything from God's viewpoint.

   5. Another desire of the spiritual man is to die right rather than to live wrong.

   6. The desire to see others advance at his expense.

   7. The spiritual man habitually makes eternity-judgments instead of time-judgments.

   -- A.W. Tozer, That Incredible Christian. Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 5.

New American Standard Bible

Philippians 1:27 through Philippians 1:30 (NASB) 27Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. 29For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

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