Habits for Spiritual Growth - Part 4: Belief Continued

Habits for Spiritual Growth
Part 4
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
October 9th, 2016
Image courtesy of Rawich at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Habits for Spiritual Growth - Part 4

In this series we have been talking about starting some habits for spiritual growth.  And two weeks ago we introduced a model for change that is going to help us get these habits started and then keep them going in our lives.  And in this model there are 4 stages to change or 4 stages of starting a new habit.  Those 4 stages are Belief, Commitment, Change and Continue.  

And last week we talked about the first stage of belief and we talked about the 3 types of belief we need to have.  1. We need to have belief in the power of something.  2. We need to believe that we need change in our lives. And 3. We must believe that if we apply the power of something to our lives that our lives will in fact change.

And this week, we are going to plug the habits we want to get started in our life, into this first stage of belief.  So, Let’s start with prayer….

So what power does prayer have?
James 5:16 
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.

This scripture tells us that the prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.  And in this scripture it describes part of that power as a healing power.  This is not a physical healing but a spiritual healing.  And here we are told to pray for one another so that we are healed spiritually.

So our first power of prayer is the power of healing.

Luke 18:1
He then told them a parable on the need for them to pray always and not become discouraged:

The power of the prayer in this scripture is the power over discouragement.

Philippians 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

The power of prayer here is power over anxiety and worry.

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

The power of prayer here is wisdom.

We could go on and on, listing scripture about the power of prayer.    But here is the thing…The power of prayer, however, doesn’t come from us or even from the prayer itself…it comes from God.

Prayer is a direct connection to the most power force, the most powerful being in the known and the unknown universe…and you and I, because we profess our faith in Jesus, have access to this direct connection.

And furthermore, not only, do we have a direct connection to God through prayer…This powerful force, Our God, cares about us. He loves us. He hears us.  And because of this, our prayers become very powerful.

Because of who we are praying to, Healing comes from praying, encouragement comes from praying, confidence comes from praying, wisdom comes from praying, forgiveness comes from repentance through prayer.  Prayer undoubtedly has power…

So what does a life without prayer look like?

The truth is life without prayer, looks like many things…except for what it is supposed to look like.  For some, it is a life filled with anxiety and worry, for others it is a life full of discouragement.  For some, life without prayer looks hopeless…for others life without prayer is a life of doing it on your own…all by yourself…relying on your own strengths and abilities…the truth is, life without prayer looks pretty bleak.

But when we change that and we add prayer to our lives or when we add more prayer to our lives, so that we are praying without ceasing then we find that life is a life of thanksgiving and of gratefulness, we find a life that relies on Jesus…we find a life that is encouraged and whose hope for all things come from Jesus…

A life with the power of prayer is a changed life. 

What power is there in scripture?

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Here we see that scripture is God breathed…and again, I want to go back to this description of God as being the absolute most powerful force in the universe.  The most supreme being there is…perfect in all ways…and Scripture is literally the WORD of this being and if scripture is the word of God, then how can it not have power?

This scripture describes this as power for teaching, for rebuking, correcting and training so that we do not have to be unprepared.

And here is what life looks like without scripture….
You feel like you don’t have a clue as to what is going on….
You feel like, you aren’t prepared for serving God…
You feel like, you aren’t smart enough, good enough, or talented enough…to be a good Christian…
You live a life that is unprepared and is full of uncertainty.

But when we do study scripture then we are equipped for everything that God has lined up for us.  We are equipped for that job He put us in.  We are equipped for the people we meet. We are equipped to face the challenges that life gives us. We are equipped to make it through life…and this is because scripture is all things for us.

Scripture is a guide for how we should live
Scripture tells us of the good news of Jesus Christ
Scripture gives us examples and witnesses of the power of God…
Scripture gives us warnings
Scripture tells of the history of the world…both past and future…
Scripture tells us how to access the power of prayer…

Scripture tells so many things, but how can we know these things and how can we have them in our lives and how can we be prepared for what life will throw at us, if we aren’t studying it? We can’t…but if we do study scripture we will be prepared and it will change our lives.

What power could serving someone else possibly have?

Luke 6:38
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Here, our scripture says give and it will be given.  And to clarify the context a little what this scripture isn’t saying, is that if you give, they will give back…we know that’s not true.  In fact, many times, when you give and when you serve people will keep taking and keep taking…and that’s okay, because what this scripture is saying is that God will give to you, with the same generosity and same measure that you give to others.  And that is a powerful statement.  Ultimately this is saying…that we get treated by God, the same way we treat others…

Now you might think that a life without giving and serving is a pretty good life because we get to keep our money, and we have more time for ourselves. But the truth is, that when we don’t serve, we live a life that is focused only on ourselves.  This is a dangerous focus because we become focused on all of our problems and all of our shortcoming or we focus on what we want and what we need and how much we aren’t getting.

But here is what happens and here is how our life is changed, when we apply the power of serving others to our own lives.  It shifts our focus from ourselves to others. It shows us how small our problems are and how big other people’s problems are.  Its shifts our focus on what we want and what we have, to what other people don’t have.  It shifts our hearts from ourselves to others.  And the power of that shift is enough to change your life.

At the end of the day, Prayer, Scripture and Serving have a lot of power and God has given us all three of these opportunities.  And He given us these so that we can grow in our relationship with Him.  And because these are from God, the most powerful force in the universe there is huge power in each one of these and when applied to our own lives, it produces change.

Can you use this kind of power in your life?

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