Growing While Isolated, pt1 (selected texts)

Our services will be online for the time being. We are live streaming our sermons through YouTube (Christ Baptist Mokopane) and we’ll also continue to upload a pre-recorded audio version of the same message for those who can’t stream.

The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz this week for your edification and uplifting.

Click here: Growing, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: Growing, for the video feed, and follow the notes below. May the Lord speak into your hearts as you worship.

Selected Texts, Growing While Isolated:

  • We won’t necessarily be meeting together soon, but our relationship with the Lord isn’t on hold. Our families should help keep us accountable to grow, and we should be eager to grow.
  • Yet, being isolated could tempt us to slide away from constant prayer, from opening our Bibles, from servicing other believers through encouragement, from individual & family worship, and even from stewardship.
  • And so, we need to look at 5 disciplines for Christian growth that every believer needs to pursue even when kept from public gathering.

 

  1. Worship:
  • Text – Exodus 20:3-6
  • Explanation – Now these disciplines are in no particular order. Each is just as necessary as the next! You see, worship of the living God is serious business. It is not something to be taken lightly. God is serious about how we worship Him, and we must be serious about it too.
  • This is stressed by the very first of the Ten Commandments, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” God is not saying, “You can have all kinds of other deities as long as they don’t rank ahead of me; I only want to be judged to be first in importance.”

 

  • Illustration – “Before Me” means “in My presence.” So God is saying, “I will not tolerate any other gods.” Now in Romans 1, Paul declares that God has revealed Himself plainly in nature. Therefore, we, as God’s creatures, have knowledge of who He really is. But Paul goes on to say that we supress this knowledge.
  • Then we exchange it for a lie, choosing to worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator. This why God pronounced a commandment to guard against this basic human tendency to substitute an idol for the truth about God.

 

  • Application – When we take up the question of worship, we have to keep before us at all times the understanding that God is a jealous God, that He absolutely requires human beings to honour, glorify, and worship Him in the way He commands, not according to the ways we prefer.
  • It is God that commands us to worship Him according to His law and not according to our own ideas. This is the first principle of worship we need to know, because if left to ourselves, we not only will gravitate toward some form of idolatry, we will be swept into it.

 

  • Conclusion – The problem with idolatry is that, although we don’t make idols of stone and wood anymore, we are all too prone to take the biblical revelation of God, look at those attributes of God that we find distasteful, such as His sovereignty, holiness, justice, and wrath, and toss them aside.
  • We then come up with a god who is all love, grace, and mercy. We create a god who is not God. But the only God we are to worship is the God who reveals Himself in the sacred Scriptures, and true worship focuses on the whole counsel of God, not on isolated aspects of God with which we are comfortable.

 

  • Bridge – And so, if we really understand who God is and that we’re in His presence, we will be on our faces before Him, giving Him the honour and the praise that He deserves. The primary reason to be in church is to worship the living God, and outside the gather of the Church, this should still be our primary aim.
  • And for this we must bring a sense of reverence and adoration for His beautiful majesty. God is not restricted to the church building, and so we mustn’t be tempted to believe that He is. However, we still need to set time aside in order to worship Him.
  • And so we encourage you to join us for our streaming services, as often as you can. We’re talking about the sovereign God of the universe, before whom the nations tremble. If we do not learn to honour Him now, we will certainly tremble before Him later.

 

  1. Prayer:
  • Text – James 5:13-18
  • Explanation – Prayer should be seen as a duty! We have explicit commands given to us by the apostles and by Jesus to pray. Romans 12:12 reads, “…rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.
  • Again in Philippians 4:6 we read, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

 

  • Illustration – Prayer is also a means! Prayer is effective and it has real power. Thus, prayer is a means that God uses to bring about His intended purposes. Just as God uses the preaching of the gospel as the power unto salvation, He also uses the power of prayer to bring about redemption.
  • Now please hear me out, our prayers cannot force God to do anything, but He uses them as His own instruments to bring about His will.
    Therefore, we need to trust that prayer works, and that should a tremendous encouragement to pray.

 

  • Application – Now the question you should have on your mind is, how then should we pray, not why should we pray… The Lord’s Prayer is the perfect model. It gives us not only an actual prayer to pray,
    but also a pattern to follow in prayer.
  • The prayer begins with a personal form of address in which God is called “Father.” And just as the Lord’s Prayer emphasizes the kingdom of God and His glory, so should our prayers. This means praying beyond our own circumstances and needs—seeing the bigger picture and praying for God’s work in the rest of the world.

 

  • Conclusion – Another simple way to structure our prayers is by using the ACTS method. The letters stand for adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. This is also great because often our prayers are limited to personal requests for whatever blessings we would like to receive from God or requests for our friends and relatives.
  • And so we need to understand that prayer is more than supplication and intercession. Jesus gave us a model for communicating with God that has inspired, comforted, and strengthened Christians for two thousand years.

 

  • Bridge – There is no point following a list of do’s when it comes to praying. Prayer is a communication of love! It’s not enough to pray because we ought to pray. Beyond the duty of prayer, there should be a delight about being engaged with God as we Pray.

 

  1. Bible Study:
  • Text – 2 Timothy 3:14-17
  • Explanation – Our approach to God’s Word shouldn’t be a wishy-washy attempt to magically grow. Our very faith comes by hearing the Word of God! But just as the Word of God is used in our conversion, it is also critical in our spiritual growth. By immersing ourselves in the Word of God, we begin to gain the mind of Christ.
  • Paul charges Timothy to engage in the diligent study of Scripture. He wanted Timothy to be fully equipped. Why? By continuing to study the Bible, we grow in faith and are able to stand firm in the truth.

 

  • Illustration – You see, Paul commends Scripture to Timothy by saying, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). He assures Timothy that the source of Scripture is God. It is “God-breathed.” It is His Word and carries with it His authority. Paul wanted Timothy to understand the source of the Bible, and with that, its purpose and value.

 

  • Application – We need to understand that Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. The value of the Bible lies, first of all, in the fact that it teaches sound
    doctrine, as much of the New Testament is concerned with
  • The Bible is also profitable for reproof and correction. We definitely have to be kept in place, and God corrects us – we don’t correct Him. Therefore, through His Word, we are cautioned to keep His instruction. This is further emphasized as Paul writes, “… that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

  • Conclusion – So firstly, we must first affirm the importance of God’s Word in order to value its impact on our lives. Additionally, we also need to practically approach God’s Word if we want to grow. And so here are some ways to approach Bible study;
  • Use a study Bible, this is helpful as it has notes to explain the text of Scripture. If you are reading through a specific book in the Bible, you could even use a commentary which will have more detailed explanations of Scripture you are studying.

 

  • You could also use a Bible concordance. A concordance lists every word that appears in a given translation of Scripture and shows where it appears. This can be very helpful for when you get to a word you don’t understand.
  • I know we’re stuck in lockdown and so you might not be able to get any of these. But many of these resources are free of the Google Play Store of the iStore. And if you’re unsure of which to download, text me and I’ll send you a link to my preference.

 

  • Bridge – Now more importantly, besides all these physical helps, we should approach Bible study in humility and eagerness. We come in humility in order to learn and to grow. Don’t come to Bible Study thinking you won’t learn or that you’ve already read that passage.
  • Draw near with eagerness, come with an attitude to be moulded by the Word and to be encouraged by it. Don’t come with an attitude of distaste.

 

Application:

  • So Great, today we’ve looked at 3 of the 5 disciplines for Christian growth we need to pursue, but there’s two more. I think we should deal with them next week as we’ve already looked at a lot today. And I don’t want these disciplines just to be added to some checklist we run through every weekday, or some idea of getting it done because that’s what Christians do.
  • No, these disciplines are personal and relational. And so as we continue in isolation, let us work out these discipines before the Lord and with our fellow brothers & sisters.
  • Let us draw near to the Lord in worship, constantly. Let us pray with purpose and understanding, And let us take up God’s Word to be edified according to His truths, and comforted by His promises.