Summer Sermon Series
Pastor Tim Potter
- July 10, 2016
Maturing our personal fellowship with God.
The whole person includes a spirit, soul, and body. Our summer study seeks to understand each part and apply biblical principles to how we grow in each aspect. This will give us confidence that we are doing what we can to please the Lord.
The spirit is the image of God in a person (Genesis 2:7). It is what makes us an individual. This includes our moral ability, our rationality, our spirituality, and our personality. All of these can be pleasing to God. Jesus said we must worship with our spirit (John 4:23-24), and Paul personally worshiped God in his spirit (Romans 1:9). The development of our spirit is a necessity (Malachi 2:15).
We will discuss how to develop the spiritual part of our person first because our spirit influences the rest of us – how we govern our individual soul and protect the sacred shell of our body. All parts of our person are equally sacred. Your character will form in direct relationship to the development of your spirit and your devotional life.
Romans 12:2 commands us to renew our minds, a word that is often synonymous with the word "spirit." 2 Corinthians 4:16 tells us how often this renewal is available. Through salvation, we are given new nature (2 Peter 1:4), a part of us that is not getting old but can be made newer every day! How is that part of us matured?
Spiritual development happens through two means: prayer and studying the Word.
Persevering in Prayer
Prayer is simply talking with God as our divine companion as often as we can. God commands us to do so in the environment of grace. We are mistaken when we confine our communion with God to 30 minutes of devotional time. The discipline of prayer is an ongoing opportunity for all believers and is essential to our spiritual development.
Good communication often propels more and better communication. What things cause you to spontaneously and naturally communicate with God? Whether good or bad, many events in life compel us to talk to the Lord, and this is always a good thing.
It is as natural for a true Christian to pray as it is for a newborn baby to breathe. When we are born again as one of God's children, we are compelled to pray.
Luke 18:1-8 is one of the most prominent, classic passages on prayer in the New Testament. This parable told by Jesus should be interpreted in a positive light, not negatively. Careful study of Luke 16-17, the chapters leading up to this passage, reveals a theme: The Lord is emphasizing perseverance.
In the environment of prayer, we prepare ourselves to overcome sinful temptation. This is the point of the parable, much more than the story of a widowed lady or a simple point about our need to pray. Reading the Bible without spending time in God's grace in prayer is a half-effort and leaves yourself exposed to temptation. Persevering in prayer keeps us from falling into sin. Don't give up!
In this parable, the judge represents the opposite of God's character. The woman represents the persistence of continually going to God for help. She had everything against her – no male relatives, no money, no lawyer to defend her against a lawsuit – but she still kept seeking help. She came so often that she was becoming a threat to the judge's reputation. Even though she knew the answer would be negative, she went with hope, believing that something would be done. That kind of prayer is honoring to God.
Jesus contrasts the judge's begrudging acquiescence with God's response to a persistent person in prayer in verse 6-8. Hearts can struggle tremendously when waiting for God to answer prayer. It is helpful to remember that there are several ways God answers prayer. Sometimes He answers before we even ask; sometimes He answers immediately; sometimes He answers "abundantly beyond all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20). Sometimes he says "yes," "no," or "wait." Regardless of the answer, we should imitate the believing disposition of this widow.
God records all our prayers, but He will delay His answer in the interest of developing your character. The judge of all earth does right (Genesis 18:25). If you keep praying with belief, you will be the faithful that Christ will find when He returns to the earth.
In the environment of prayer, we get to know God and God gets to know us. God is omniscient, but He still wants you to tell Him about yourself!
- A walk with God must include conversing with Him spontaneously and regularly throughout the day. It is possible to pray without ceasing even while you work and still do a good job. This is necessary!
- A medical study found that the most healthy people hug, laugh, read, and practice silence every day. How would the collective spirit of our church change if every saint daily took 6 minutes to read their Bible and 20 minutes to enjoy God in silent prayer? Will you begin?
- Study Luke 16-17, the chapters leading up to the parable of the persistent widow. Pay attention to Jesus' emphasis on perseverance and see what God will teach you on that theme.
- Believers persevere to the end, and they are enabled to do so primarily through developing their spirit in prayer. No matter what is happening in your life, keep talking and communicating with God! This is one way you prove your sainthood.
- Are you ever tempted to give up in prayer? Remember the ways God does answer prayer, and rehearse how He has answered your prayers in the past. Keep believing that He will answer.
Tools for Further Study
Cross References to Explore
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 1 John 2:26-28 – Pleasing God with every part of our person.
- Psalm 51:1 – David asked God to restore his spirit.
- Proverbs 2:24, Proverbs 20:27 – The importance of our spirit.
- Romans 8:26-27 – The ministry of the Holy Spirit in prayer. Prayer is so essential to God that when we can't, He does it for us.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – Pray without ceasing.
Quotes to Ponder
Anything that compels you to speak to God is a good thing.
You will observe the desire to commune with God in prayer is only intensified by the failure of all other sources of consolation.— Charles Spurgeon
There is nothing more worthwhile than to pray to God and converse with Him, for prayer unites us to God as His companions. As our bodily eyes are illuminated by seeing the light, so in contemplating God our soul is illuminated by Him. Of course the prayer I have in mind is no matter of routine, it is deliberate and earnest. It is not tied down to a fixed timetable; rather it is a state which endures by night and day.— John Chrysosystom
Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life.— Jonathan Edwards