Fresh Air, Part 1 – Sermon Notes

[These are sermon notes from a sermon given at Church of the Four Corners in Independence, MO by Craig Kackley. The message can be watched here.]

For many people the New Year is a good time to think about new changes and improvements in our life. This series is about choosing to use this year to build a deeper relationship with Christ.

On the earth, there is a weather phenomenon called the Intertropical Convergence Zone. This is an area where the trade winds converge and cancel each other out. Sailors call this area the doldrums. There’s not any wind and wind powered boats can’t move through this area.

Often our relationship with God falls into this pattern where we find that we’ve lost the passion in our relationships.

Four Stages of Doldrums

  1. We try to fake it.

There’s an idea that if we go to church we often feel like we have to have it all together. We know that we’re here to worship the most powerful God, but we feel pressure to put on a face, to pretend that everything’s alright.

  1. We put it off.

There’s a lie that time heals all wounds. In truth, time will make our wounds worse. A untended tooth can lead to a much worse situation: a root canal. Yet, we often do this with our spiritual life.  (Hebrews 12:15)

  1. We give up.

The heart of COTFC is to minister to people in this place, those who don’t have any hope in church or change.

  1. Death.

The end of all things that are not in the Lord.

We need to be spiritual revived. This revival, however, is not due to anything you do. It has to do with what you choose. This goes back to the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9). In the garden, there was two trees, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We tend to gravitate to the second tree, we try to understand things instead of focusing on our spiritual life. When we are feeling stuck, we move to the knowledge tree. It ends up pulling us in like quick sand and the more we struggle, the more we get sucked into knowledge which causes us to strive and struggle more and the cycle continues.

Christianity isn’t about behavior modification. It’s about living the life the Lord has for me is about deeply falling in love with Jesus, knowing Him, receiving Him and seeing Him in our life. It’s laid in Deuteronomy 30:19, “Today I have given you a choice between life and death… Oh that you would choose life…”

How Do We Choose Life?

Choice 1: To Do More – OR – Receive What Has Already Been Done

Some churches teach that to be spiritual or Godly you need to do more of something. Example, struggling? Read more. Reading 2 chapters a day? Read 4. They use the example of Jesus asking Peter to stay up just an hour to show that our prayers should be an hour long. If that’s where you are, you’ve missed it. Jesus said to the Pharisees that they searched the scriptures for life, but they missed that He stood in front of Him. One of the first steps to breaking out of spiritual apathy is to acknowledge that there is nothing you can do to make God love you any more or any less. We do not need to try earn His approval. Romans 5:8 Christ died for us while we sinners, not while we were getting things right.

Choice 2: Obey Out of Duty – OR – Obey Out of Delight

When we have the feeling of “getting” to do something, we are more likely to do that then when we feel like we “have” to do it. Anything that we feel like we are forced to do, we are going to stop doing when our motivation leaves us. Anything that we get to do, we are going to do because we enjoy it and not because we feel that someone is going to fail us or condemn us if we don’t.

Things become easier to do when we either love the thing we do or we love the person we’re doing it for. John 14:15 says, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” This is great litmus test of the status of our hearts. Some people hear Jesus saying, “If you love me, prove it. Try harder and learn more. Eat more of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. See how much behavior modification you can do. ” Others of use hear, “If you love me, don’t worry about it. If you love me, you’ll do what I ask. Be with me and enjoying doing what I ask. It’s about a relationship and not about rules.”

Are you in the do more camp where you will never be enough because you are seeking what you already have? Are you in the camp of life to be given life through the blood of Christ so you can then turn around and obey out of delight?

Searching Scriptures, Refusing Jesus - John 5:39-40

Come That You May Have Life

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. – John 5:39-40 ESV

The conviction in the words of Jesus can sometimes hit straight into your heart. Two verses in John are ready to stab piousness, no matter how little or how deeply it’s buried in our hearts. These verses are John 5:39-40 and they talk to us about living a life of theological understanding instead of life changing understanding.

In these verses in the fifth chapter of John, Jesus is responding to the complaints that he’s making himself equal with God and not keeping the Sabbath day holy (John 5:18). He is offering to the blind religious leaders a chance to hear Him and see Him as the Messiah. If they saw Him as God intended them to, they probably wouldn’t have condemned as a rule-breaker. If you meet God incarnate and He healed someone, would you quibble with what day of the week it was? The problem was that the beliefs of the religious that were based on scripture were blinding them to the Truth of God in front of them that was real and living.

The painful thing about this truth is that Christians today are doing the same thing. We search the scriptures, but instead of doing it to meet God, we do it to be right or to increase our own personal understanding. We forget the not only is God real, but Jesus is real and the Holy Spirit is real, and they are trying to be real part of our life.

Searching the scriptures apart from the guidance of the Holy Spirit is walking with the risk of becoming spiritually dryer and dryer until we become nothing but dust on the inside. At that point, the only thing we know how to do is try to take the spiritual life and freedom out of others until they are as dusty and dry as we are. Remember, we became dusty and dry by studying the Word of God, so it’s easy to fall into putting down others who disagree with us.  We forget that the knowledge of God through Jesus Christ is given by Jesus alone, not by an intellectual understanding (Matthew 11:27).

How many battles have we waged with the words, “But the Bible says…”? How many times have we spoken condescendingly over a situation because we know what a “Christian should have done”? These words and judgmental attitudes are symptoms of a drying up Christian, of someone who’s using the Word of God without the power of a relationship with Christ.

This will destroy us and damage the testimony of all Christians if we don’t live in the truth of what Christ did and the knowledge of Him personally. Fight the temptation to be today’s Pharisees who use the Word to grow in piousness and selfishness. Instead, use the knowledge of Christ to study the Word to bring life and joy and fruit (John 15:8).