Sermon Notes 1.26.2020

1-26-20    Sermon Notes   “Connecting With God Through SPIRITUAL PRACTICES”    #Connect2020

One of my New Year’s goals for 2020 is to continue to regularly go to the gym.  I’m trying to build up my endurance on the treadmill so I can run a 5K in April, and I also have been working on the weight machines for strength training.  

I’m nowhere near “prime shape.”  My running looks like a determined “jog,” and let’s just say I’m not ready for muscle beach.  In fact, not long ago I had gone down to the gym to work out after dinner, and I’d been on the treadmill and through the upper-body machines.  I was feeling pretty good about myself until I went to the coat rack to put my coat back on before leaving.  Standing next to me was this guy who was “swoll” as the young folks say.  He looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s younger brother.  It was a bit intimidating to stand next to him.  As I was putting my jacket on, he looked at my arms and said, “Need to hit those upper-body machines, right?” I just smiled and said, “Yeah, sure do.”  

Inside I was going, “I literally just did the upper-body machines.  What’s up, Arnold??!!”  On the drive home, I thought about it.  I really am making progress.  I am getting stronger.  Little by little.
What if I could see my “inner, spiritual” person reflected in a mirror?  I might be tempted to say, “Need to hit those spiritual practices, right?”  Yeah, sure do!  It can be a bit intimidating to consider those spiritually “buff” saints.  Richard Foster, who wrote the classic, Celebration of Discipline, talks about how he would read about the lives of the saints of days gone by and think, “What do they know that I don’t?”  About these saints Foster writes,

They experienced Jesus as the defining reality of their lives.  They possessed a flaming vision of God that blinded them to all competing loyalties.  They experienced life built on the Rock.  (Celebration of Disciple, p. xiv)  

Foster wanted this kind of life for himself.  He wanted to connect with God in such a way that it was inwardly and outwardly noticeable to himself and everyone around him.  So Richard Foster’s goal was to become – NOT Brother Lawrence, A.W. Tozer, or Teresa of Avila or those other “saints” – but a spiritually stronger, more transformed version of who God made him to be.  Can you identify with that goal?  I can!  

I think that is what the Psalmist was getting at in Psalm 19: 14…
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable to you,
    O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.  (Psalm 19: 14  NRSV)

This month we have been looking at ways that we connect with God.  For the final message in this series, we will explore how spiritual practices help us connect and get stronger in our relationship with God…little by little.

What are spiritual practices?  They are intentional ways we try to connect with God and be spiritually formed…practices like prayer, meditation, study, fasting, simplicity, service, journaling, singing and worship…  

Each person may be naturally drawn to a different spiritual practice.  Pastor Carrie, Pastor Andy and I each have different spiritual practices that we use to connect with God.  This Sunday, you will hear from all three of us – like tag-team preaching.  You don’t want to miss that!

See you Sunday,
Pastor Sam

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