Sermon Notes for the teaching at Christian Fellowship Church on Sunday, September 25, 2022

Pastor Steve Boul - Deepen the Joy: Spirit & Humility

 

Welcome first time guests, so glad that you are here

Middle of a 2 part series

“Deepen the Joy.” This will be a spiritual formation series – we’ll be looking at what it means to be conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.

 

“Previously on”

For those who were here last week don’t “skip”

Lectio practice, what is the Holy Spirit reminding you

How can we deepen the joy in our relationship with Jesus? Or even more personally, how is God inviting you to deepen the joy in your relationship with Him?

To get us started, I want to read you a story from a book called “A Deeper Walk,” by Marcus Warner

Move 1: Jesus is inviting us to deepen the joy in our relationship with him, but many of our wells are clogged (photo of well).

“A group of missionaries made their way to a village in India. They were part of a group that offered to dig wells in rural areas to bring fresh drinking water to the people. They discovered that this village already had a well. But something had gone wrong with it, and the people had started using the well as the town dump. It was filled with all sorts of garbage, even broken toilets!

The missionary team discussed the matter and decided it would be more cost-effective to reclaim this well than dig a new one. So, they got to work. They started emptying all the garbage out of the shaft, which couldn’t have been the most pleasant task in the world. About halfway down the well, they found something they did not expect – a cobra’s nest! I’m sure someone had a mild heart attack with that discovery. The group contacted a specialist and had these poisonous snakes relocated before they finished their project.

After pressure washing the shaft, the team finally reached the bottom. Here they discovered the source of the problem: the foundation stones had collapsed and were clogging the spring. As a result, no water could enter the well. Now that they had discovered the source of the problem, they got to work restoring the foundations.

Finally, the day came when they finished. Everyone celebrated, and there were hugs all around as water from the spring refilled the well. What had started as the town dump had been reclaimed. It was now a source of life to the whole community.”

This illustration of a well is like an individual who wants to enjoy a deeper relationship with God but feels stuck. Their well is clogged with things like wounds, lies, and sin. The foundation has collapsed, and the water can no longer flow through. It has dried up and needs repair. This illustration reminds me of another story of a well and a woman who needed Jesus’ help to rebuild her well. We can find this story in the New Testament in the gospel of John, chapter 4. Let’s read together:

Move 2: Jesus wants to unclog our wells and offer us living water (John 4):

“A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 

 

The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” – John 4:7-15

Move 3: The acronym FISH can describe this living water:

To give us a picture of four things we need to embrace to deepen the joy in our relationship with Jesus, and experience this “living water,” Beth introduced the FISH acronym.

Freedom. Just like the missionaries had to clear out the junk that was clogging the well, we can clean out the baggage and bondage in our lives and learn to receive freedom.

“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ, we were set free from the power of sin.” Romans 6:6-7

Identity. Just like the well’s foundation stones had collapsed and were clogging the spring, our growth can be hindered when our foundation is not set on our identity in Christ. We can repair our foundation and learn to trust our identity.

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” – Ephesians 1:4-5

This week we are going to look at the S and the H, Spirit and Humility

FISH slide

Spirit:

Verse: Galatians 5:25

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

In both the story and the passage, the water represents the Holy Spirit.

Once the missionaries unclogged the well and repaired the foundation, the water was free to flow again. We can reconnect and walk by the Spirit.

In John’s gospel, Jesus returns to his metaphor in John 7

 “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. ” … Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive

Unpack our verse a bit.

If we live by the Spirit.

Salvation reference (John 3 born again of the Spirit). Spirit. Freedom. Identity.

Let us also walk by the Spirit

Walking – relationship with God - This is about formation

Part of that formation is experiencing new depths of freedom and a fuller understanding of our identity

Since this is a continual process, it’s at this point that we need to let go of the order in our acronym and start to see how all these things work together.

Sometimes FISH becomes a SHIF

Freedom 2 Corinthians 3:17

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom

Identity Romans 8:15

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

How – Read and listen

In “A Deeper Walk” Marcus Warner connects immediately with scripture FISSH

Because the Holy Spirit is the one who inspired the authors of Scripture, the Bible cannot be separated from the idea of walking by the Spirit

Correctly understood Scripture and the Spirit are never in competition

“God has given us two gifts that work together to teach us wisdom. He has given us Scripture and the Spirit. Without the Spirit, Scripture can easily be manipulated and used to harm people. Without the Scripture, people can easily be led astray by emotional or supernatural experiences. I sometimes think of the Scripture and the Spirit as God’s lantern for guiding us through this dark world. The Scripture is the frame of the lantern, and the Spirit is the flame. Together they serve as a light to our path.” – p142

Reminded me of Jo’s story from last week, power of reading in Galatians.

Then we listen

I wish I could give you a three step “works every time” way to hear God. I’m not sure listening to God is like that. Bible is full of so many different stories. L/R brain hearing helped me.

L clear and concise

R “thinking with God”

Personal experience for Sara and me

Listening can be really hard, when the kids are going crazy, the dog is barking, the TV is on in the background, etc.

Probably not the language I would use listen to this A.W. Tozer prayer (1948)

Lord, teach me to listen. The times are noisy and my ears are weary with the thousand raucous sounds which continuously assault them. Give me the spirit of the boy Samuel when he said to Thee, “Speak, for Thy servant heareth.” Let me hear Thee speaking in my heart. Let me get used to the sound of Thy voice, that it’s tones may be familiar when the sounds of earth die away and the only sound will be the music of Thy speaking voice. Amen.

Imagine how different your life would be if the sounds of earth died away and the only sound was the music of God’s voice?

Strategies for Healing:

  • Spirit, Soul, & Body (slide) – starts this Tuesday morning with Gary Dietrich
  • Understanding the Revelatory Gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14 (slide) – starts October 9 with Dan and John/Sunny

 

Humility:

Verse 1 Peter 5:5

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Humility is trusting God and others with myself. It is a communal word.

As in the story of the well, it did not fix itself. It took a team of missionaries and professionals to accomplish the task. They had to recognize their needs and bring their full selves. Think about the cobra specialist. What would have happened had the others not recognized their need or he/she held back their expertise?

In the story of the woman at the well, she returns to the village and tells her whole story. Think about that, she was by herself, an outcast because of the shame of her past but after meeting Jesus she left her jar took her whole self back to the village maybe for the very first time.

I think this need for humility can make trust hard for us. When I trust God for my salvation, I am expressing humility and my need for a saviour.

Trusting God can be difficult, trusting others can sometimes be even harder. But that is what our verse calls us to do when we are told to be clothed with humility toward one another.

God’s plan for us includes others. Loving others and being loved by them. There is no love without trust (1 Corinthians 13:5 Love always trusts)

Christianity is first a relational faith – being alive in relationship with God and others. When we are trusting God’s love, it frees us to trust others in their love.

Imagine how different your life would be if you were alive in relationship with God and others?

Risking humility is how it can feel

 

Strategies for Healing:

  • Healing Prayer (slide) - ongoing
  • Fall Festival (slide) – October 31

 

Move 4: Receiving freedom and trusting our identity can deepen the joy in our relationship with Jesus. 

 

To help us see how walking by the Spirit and risking humility can deepen the joy in our relationship with Jesus, I’ve invited Miriam Knight to share part of her story with us.

 

Interview Questions for Miriam:

  • How does walking by the Spirit deepen the joy in your relationship with Jesus?
  • How does risking humility deepen the joy in your relationship with Jesus?

Pause (Sam come out and play)

Now we want to ask you the same questions (bring back photo of well)

Imagine your well. What do you see?

Is there living water flowing? What are the areas in your life where you need the Holy Spirit?

Sit quietly and listen for the Holy Spirit to bring something to mind. Is there somewhere you need to hear his voice?

Look a little closer. Are you trying to do life alone?

What would it look like to trust God and others with yourself?

I want to bring us back to our transformational question:

How can walking by the Spirit and risking humility deepen the joy in your relationship with Jesus?

Mission:

 

As we close this series, I want to take us back to the place Beth started us.

Spiritual formation – to be conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.

When we return to joy, when we deepen our joy, when we receive freedom, trust our identity, walk by the Spirit, and risk humility, it’s not just about us individually or even those of us here this morning. It’s about our mission in this world.

Paul in his introduction to walking by the Spirit (the S) says this in Galatians 5:13-14.

For you were called to freedom, brothers (that’s the F and brothers is an I statement). Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (there’s the H, humility). For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (that’s our mission)

First disciples who were fishermen Jesus called to become fishers of men

I’m the outreach pastor, and I sometimes struggle with my title. Outreach is so often presented as a way to make God happy with us. But when we understand that God is a happy-to-be-with-us God something changes.

Joy, rather than being something we try and choose by taking a different attitude or thinking differently, is triggered within us and we become happy-to-be-with-you people who reflect a happy-to-be-with-you God.

This is attractive to the world. This is light in the darkness.

The result of reclaiming the well was the ability to offer life-giving water to the entire village.

Listen to the end of the story in John 4 after the woman had shared her testimony of drinking living water

“So, when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word.” John 4:40-41

They received the very presence of Jesus.

Ministry time – Receiving the presence of Jesus

Pray for Kaylyn during ministry time

 

How might you receive the presence of Jesus and deepen the joy in your relationship with Him?

 

Dismiss with Nouwen prayer

 

Dutch catholic priest. Gift of love.

Dear Lord,

I so much want to be in control.

I want to be the master of my own destiny.

Still I know that you are saying:

“Let me take you by the hand and lead you.

Accept my love, and trust that where I will bring you,

The deepest desires of your heart will be fulfilled.”

Lord, open my hands to receive your gift of love.

Amen

 

 

Miriam:

Spirit:

The environments I grew up in along with my personality bent led me to view my role as God’s kid to do the right thing. To obey.

I imagined God as holding the right choice I was supposed to make behind his back. I believed that if I really knew God, if we were really close, that I would be able to know what choice was behind his back, do it, and experience the life he had for me. Ultimately, it led me to focusing on what I was doing, rather than Who I was doing it with.

I believed a lie: that I could mess up God’s plans for me.

In my early twenties, I joined a church in Minneapolis who repeatedly talked about two of the most important questions to ask in our Christian life: What is God doing? And how can I participate in it?

These questions assumed that God’s Spirit was always moving, always initiating, and I was always being invited to respond. To cooperate. This shifted something deep inside me. To answer these questions, I had to let go of my belief that my primary job as a follower of Jesus was to figure out and then do the right thing that God expected of me.

I was invited to cooperate. I began to experience freedom to trust that God was leading me. That he was speaking, and I didn’t have to guess and worry that I would get it right. But, that I could tune into the voice of the Spirit and hear his guidance. And trust that he would empower me to live out whatever it was that he was inviting me into.

In a really practical way, I shifted from worrying about “what will I do? And will it be right?” to saying, “God, how are you going to show me what you’re doing and how I can join you?”

How this has impacted my joy with Jesus? I feel known and loved, because his invitations are unique to how he’s created me and what he’s doing in my life currently. I’ve grown in seeing him as the initiator, so I can rest in knowing that he will lead me and protect me so that I experience more freedom and life in his kingdom.

Humility:

For the first two years of my daughter’s life, she experienced a difficult medical journey. Once the more threatening aspects of her journey stabilized, we were so grateful, but also navigating a reality of life with a feeding tube—and we didn’t know for how long.

My exhaustion as a caretaker began to peak earlier this year. God’s Spirit began to illuminate for me that, while everyone in our circle knew that Lydia had a feeding tube, I had not shared the great impact that that made on our day-to-day life.

I didn't want to be affected by this, so I slipped into hiding a significant struggle that me and my family faced.

Because more truthfully, I was feeling very weak.

I sensed an invitation from the Spirit to be more honest with others, and subsequently with God, about me.

At a coffee date with a couple of friends in our CF family, I took a risk and let out a long stream of words and tears about how exhausted and hopeless I was feeling.

My ramblings and tears were met with great compassion and gentleness. My friends spoke hope into our future, empowered me to trust who God had made me as a mom and to take some needed next steps for my health and for my daughter’s.

And, I did something I had never done in four years of belonging to Christian Fellowship. I wrote out a prayer request on a communication card. And some of you that might seem silly that it took me that long and others of you know exactly what kind of courage that takes. That was an incredibly simple action, but for me, a deeply humble one, trusting that my weakness would be cared for by God and by our community here.

These friends, our pastoral care team who received my request, and others, helped me see Jesus more clearly.

I've grown to more deeply trust that Jesus is gentle with me in my not-enough-ness. He, and those he put in my community, can be trusted with me. He doesn't shame me for being weak, but treats me as honorable and beloved. He's a happy-to-be-with-me and standing-right-beside-me God, who welcomes my weakness and vulnerability. I am growing to trust Jesus as safe place to land.