For the week commencing 10th November 2019
We are week 5 into series called “We exist to glorify God by making disciples…”
Here’s the outline:
13 Oct …but what is a disciple?
20 Oct …why make disciples?
27 Oct …how are disciples made?
Noosa tri weekend – will be a one-off sermon, not in this series. Sunshine service, 5pm, Sat, 2nd Nov
10 Nov …persevering discipleship
17 Nov …why disciples stagnate
24 Nov …how disciples grow
Some of us reading these notes have been a Christian for many years, and there is a temptation to become comfortable and complacent in our Christian life. We will explore why this might happen so we can be warned and make sure we do not stagnate. The dictionary defines “stagnate” as – to cease developing; become inactive or dull. Stagnant water is characterised by lack of development, advancement, or progressive movement. If we are not growing and developing as Christians, then we are stagnant – there is no standing still in the Christian life. A Christian is either growing or stagnating! Indeed, it is very possible that someone can attend church and Connect groups each week, and yet be drifting and stagnant. So, let us be warned about this very real danger.
Day 1: Read Hebrews 2: 1 – 4
The writer to the Hebrews is warning us to “pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” The word “therefore” is always important as it refers us to what has gone before – in this case what has been said in chapter 1 about the superiority of Jesus to the angels. If those who did not listen to angels, who were sent by God in the Old Testament, were judged severely, how much more severely will we be judged if we do not listen to and obey Jesus who is far greater than the angels. The writer goes on to say, “how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation.” Solemn words indeed. Note that this is written to those within the church, professing Christians, not those outside who have never professed faith in Christ. So, in order to not become stagnant, we must pay careful attention to what we have heard, and not ignore (or treat lightly) such a great salvation. To drift away requires no effort, so we need to be active and progressive in our Christian life.
Where are you at right now in your Christian life? Is there are change you are stagnant?
DAY 2: Read Hebrews 4: 11 & 12: 14; Philippians 2: 12 – 13; Hebrews 12: 1
In the Hebrews 4 and 12 readings, we are told to “make every effort”, in our Christian walk. Philippians 2 tells us to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”, and Hebrews 12: 1 urges us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us.” In each of these readings we get the impression that the Christian life is hard work – there is so much that could bog us down if we let it. It’s much easier to “go with the flow” and drift, but that is not what is honouring our Saviour, and we are in danger of drifting away completely. There is no place for complacency in the Christian life. We are in a battle with Satan and our own sinful desires and only by standing firm, and making every effort are we assured of salvation. Yes, we are saved by grace, and that grace is apparent in our daily faithful walk with Jesus. By God’s grace, we cling to him and seek to draw near and live faithfully.
DAY 3: Read Hebrews 5: 11 – 6: 3; 1 Peter 2: 1 – 3
Another reason people can drift is that they have not grown in their Christian faith. They are still like babies who can only digest milk, rather than an adult who can eat meat. The writer to the Hebrews was faced with this problem. His readers should have been teaching others but in fact they were still babies. They had not advanced in their faith and were still only at an elementary stage in their beliefs. Hebrews 6: 1 tells us we must “go on to maturity”, that is to keep growing and learning. Peter says we start with “milk”, but we need to “grow up”. Do not be content with what you first learnt 20 years ago, but read, study, discuss God’s Word and doctrinal issues with one another. There are many excellent Christian books that will help you to develop a deeper understanding of your faith. This does not mean everyone should be a teacher or Connect Group leader, but all of us should be growing and learning more. What plans do you have in place right now to ensure you are continuing to grow in your understanding, and through a deeper understanding, grow in your relationship with God?
DAY 4: Read Matthew 13: 1 – 23
The parable of the sower is very familiar to us – there are 4 different types of soil, but only one is fruitful. In verses 5 – 7 we see plants that had sprung up and seemed to prosper for a time, but some had no root and they withered, and others were choked by thorns. In verses 20 – 23, Jesus explains these two kinds of plants. The first represents the person who falls away when trials come, and in the second case, “the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.” Now this parable says that only one of the soils produced good fruit (so only one of the plants represents true faith), however there is still a valuable lesson here as we consider the dangers of stagnating. It is possible for someone to profess faith in Christ, but then become so caught up in the worries of this life that they drift away. It is sadly possible for true Christians to focus more on the things of the world than Christ. Such a person is in danger of drifting away, of becoming stagnant. We come back to what we looked at on day 2 – we need to get rid of everything that hinders us in our Christian walk and make every effort to follow Jesus wholeheartedly lest we drift away.
Lord, may our walk with you be rich and real and deep. Save us from being shallow or superficial or like babies in our understanding and in our faith. Keep us vital, growing and going deeper, day by day, week by week, year by year. By the grace of the Lord Jesus, Amen.
By Lesley Bloomfield.