How to cultivate a Christian life that works
No matter who you are, no matter where you are in your faith journey, faith is something that needs to be cultivated. The thing I’m learning about faith is that the more I seek after Christ, the more I seek to abide and obey, the more He grows my faith. It’s a tremendous weight off our shoulders to realize that we aren’t responsible for growing our own faith – because we can’t. However, we must pursue Jesus Christ and seek to abide in Him. So how do you cultivate a Christian life that works? Cultivating the Christian Life takes theology out of the ivory tower and enables you to apply it to where you live every day.
Something To Talk About:
- The Word seems irrelevant, so I ignore it: People tend to dismiss the Bible without ever opening it and sadly miss the greatest message in history. Yes, the Bible does speak of people and events from long ago, and you may wonder what they possibly could mean to us today. But this doesn’t make the Bible outdated or irrelevant. The Bible tells us about things that are eternal and will never change. It tells us first of all about God, who never changes. From the first verse in Genesis to the final verse in Revelation, God reveals to us what He is like and what He has done for us because of His love. The Bible also tells us about human nature—and that too never changes. In some ways we may know more than people who lived thousands of years ago—but in our hearts we’re still the same. Just as Biblical people need God, so do we. The Bible is as relevant today as it was when it was written.
- The Word causes problems, so I drop it:The Bible makes us uncomfortable. It can create problems if I do what it asks me to do. The reality is the Bible solves problems. Jesus often asked people to share their problems with Him. Jesus helped them to re-evaluate their perspective and recognize what they truly needed. God’s grace is broader and deeper than your problems, which is why, when working through problems, your starting point must begin from this view. I realize God’s all-sufficient grace sounds too simplistic, but that does not matter. God’s Word is true. There is no unfixable problem outside of God’s empowering grace. It doesn’t mean that you will not have problems. People don’t read the Bible because they don’t like the Bible. But people don’t like the Bible because they don’t read the Bible.
- The Word is secondary, so I neglect it. Honestly, I think a lot of Christians put the Bible in the same category as other literary classics—it’s something we feel like we should read, but we don’t know exactly why. After all, it’s hard to prove whether reading the Bible does any measurable good—aren’t there plenty of nice, successful people who don’t read the Bible? Many people do not find themselves awed by the Bible. They avoid the Bible because it has been a long time (if ever) since they have found themselves truly moved by its truth because they don’t have time to read scripture. We will always make time for what we determine to be the most important things. So, the real question is: why don’t you value daily time in God’s Word more? Maybe you don’t fully understand what God promises will happen to you when you saturate yourself in Scripture. For starters, Psalm 1 describes the image of a man who meditates day and night on Scripture and he is like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, bearing fruit and prosperous in all he does. 2 Timothy 3:16 teaches us that all Scripture is breathed out by God and benefits us in all aspects of our lives (teaching, rebuking, correcting, and directing us in every step). Proverbs 2 is a beautiful exhortation to seek God’s wisdom and knowledge and as we do, we will find true life, righteousness, and discernment. All of these passages speak to the timeless truth that our personal intake of Scripture will most certainly change our very lives.
- Listen, lovingly obey, and let the Spirit do His work: The Holy Spirit desires to transform and use the mind of the believer in Bible study. If you want to let the Holy Spirit lead your life and walk by the Spirit, it’s a conscious choice you need to make each and every day. Pray that the Lord will fill you with His Spirit. Pray that you would walk by the Spirit. Throughout your day, watch and listen for opportunities to obey the Spirit’s promptings. Obedience is the key in walking closer and closer in step with the Holy Spirit. The more I pray, listen and obey, the closer He is. Just like James 4:8, draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Listening to the voice of the Spirit requires reading the Word of God. Prayerfully ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in your Bible study.
- Take a look back at your calendar from the past week or two. Are you someone who tends to pack your schedule with appointments and to-do lists or someone who leaves a great deal of flexibility?
- What is your studying/reading style? Is it effective in reading the Bible?
- What does it mean to read the Bible with expectation? What in your mind is a critical reading of the Bible?
- What challenges have you heard people raise against the Bible? What do you think about the Bible’s reliability?
- Bible study is not the same thing as Bible reading. How are they different? What are the advantages of having a deeper knowledge of scripture in your day-to-day walk with God?
- Do you believe we should start with the big story, Jesus? Why or why not? When we encounter Jesus He can profoundly impact our lives. How is He changing your life now to be more like His?
- Where does simple faith and trust come in when studying and interpreting the Bible?
- So what is keeping you from committing to a Bible plan in 2022?
- Reflect with your group on what you have learned from this message. Has anything surprised you? Have you learned something new?
- Share with your group any changes you want to make as a result of hearing this sermon?
Take one thing home with you:
If you are a Christian, the Bible is an indispensable book. Our walk alongside God takes a thousand twists, turns, and obstacles. Fortunately, the Bible is the map for that journey. Much more than a single volume, it’s a library of 66 books. The Old Testament opens with creation and unfurls the history of God’s relationship with Israel and the Jews. The New Testament reveals that redemption through Jesus Christ was God’s plan all along. Together, these books are the Word of God. Each was written by men through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Read your Bible. Study the Scriptures, examine them closely and apply yourself to understanding them. It will change your life.