Practicing Growing Deep
There are four practices will help you grow deep in your relationship with God.
The Practice of Growing Deep
We’ve been considering the task of a disciple. The kind of things that a follower of Christ is expected to do. We narrowed our inquiry down to three things, Christians are to grow deep, grow up and grow fruit. Today we are going to revisit the expectation of growing deep. This will be a recap of what was presented with the emphasis on “How to grow deep.” If you find you want to delve deeper you can find an entire message on our website www.hbcc.life for each of the 4 practices of growing deep.
Growing Deep, Growing Up, Growing Fruit totally hinges on your response to the gospel. If you’re all in, these are the things that will be occurring in your life. If you are what others have referred to as nominal Christian, you may have good beliefs but no action, no results, no growth. The life of a follower of Jesus is one of action.
1 John 3:18-19 (MSG)
My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality.
All spiritual growth is the result of an act of love. When we speak of love we must define what we mean. Love for God is simply obeying His commands because you want to do everything that enhances and strengthens your relationship with Him and refrain from anything that would hinder or harm it (I John 5:3). Love for others is treating everyone you meet with respect and seeking to meet their need as the opportunity arises (Matthew 7:12). Love of the Earth is being a good steward of all that God has given you to manage (1 Timothy 6:17-19). Finally, love for self is keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, partnering with the Spirit in His process of transforming you into Christ’s likeness (Galatians 5:16-26). When you practice real love you will grow spiritually. When your good works are motivated by love, you will grow spiritually.
I am still surprised that many Christians cannot explain briefly and succinctly the gospel in which they have believed. Don’t surprise me ok? I want us to read together, read out loud, 4 brief and succinct verses of Scripture that proclaim the gospel
John 3:16 (NLT)
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 6:23 (NIV)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 John 4:10 (MSG)
This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God.
The gospel is that human beings are in a sin predicament estranged from God, alienated from one another, mismanaging resources, uncomfortable in their own skin and that Jesus makes it possible to change all this so that you live your life to the full (John 10:10).
To believe the gospel is to own this sin predicament. You see the relationships in your life that have gone wrong, you see it, you hate it, you never want to be involved in behaviors that deter, damage or destroy good relationships again. Acknowledging your sins is confessing them. That confession is accompanied by repentance, the desire, and action to change. The reason why you would acknowledge sins in your life is that you believe the gospel, God’s love through Jesus sacrificial death has made it possible for you to be forgiven. In your acknowledging and believing there is only one choice, realizing that Jesus gave His life for you, you commit to living for Him, you commit yourself to discipleship, to doing life as a follower of Jesus. With this faith, you ask God to make things right between you and He. God sees the sincerity of your heart and reconciles your relationship with Himself, empowering you to make things right with others, earth and self, empowering you to grow deep, grow up and grow fruit, empowering you to be a practitioner of real love.
Are you a believer whose faith has been accepted by God? If you would like this to be your experience do it. Stand up and say “I want this,” “I believe the gospel.” “I am a sinner, saved by grace because Jesus died and rose again for me, that I can know God.”
So it is here every believer starts. To grow deep involves knowing God. To know God you will have to go “all in.” The more intimate the relationship, the more trust, the more confidence the deeper the relationship becomes. Academic knowledge is good but falls far short of experiential knowledge. The way you grow deep is by creating situations in which you can encounter God. Such situations are created when you practice the seven habits of a disciple. We read and study the scripture, we pray, we engage in fellowship, we serve, we worship, we obey and we contemplate. Those seven practices are invitations for God to meet with you. It is through these encounters that you get to know God personally.
The daily practice of the seven habits cannot be overemphasized. If you are not practicing the habits you will not grow deep in your relationship with God.
The first practice of growing deep is the practice of the seven habits of a disciple.
We also have learned the need to lookup. Looking up to the heavenly heights to which we have been called, the righteousness, the holiness, the purity that is yours in Christ.
Colossians 3:1-2 (NIV)
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
We look up by making the choice to get rid of the attractions and desires for worldly concerns, what we can call an earthly gaze. “You must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:8-10 (NIV). You might be tempted to say, I’ve done exactly that, so let me ask you, what do you entertain yourself with? Let me ask you, “What are your life goals?” Let me ask you, “What do you desire?” The world offers up many unprofitable ventures.
Colossians 3:5 (NIV)
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
We likened that old earthly gaze to the old habits, attachments, addictions and value system in the old way of life. Like filthy clothes, they are to be ripped off and burned. Then we can wear God’s designer wardrobe of love. God’s designer wardrobe decks you out in “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. [You] bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. [You] Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col 3:12-13 (NIV).
To look up will often require extended amounts of time in contemplation. We are so inundated with the values of our culture, we are so accustomed to our old behaviors, that it will take the Holy Spirit revealing to you what needs to be changed so that fix your eyes above. So ask, get into that quiet place and ask the Holy Spirit to do an evaluation on your behaviors.
The second practice of growing deep is sustaining an upward focus.
Fellowship is vitally important to grow deep in your relationship with God. The company you keep makes a difference. If you choose wisely, you will get the encouragement you need, the support you need to grow deep. There is also a supernatural element that occurs when you gather with another believer:
Matthew 18:20 (NIV)
For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
Two or three believers gathered in His name is an invitation for Jesus to enter into the group. Jesus prompts us with insight and ideas, and empowerment to do His will. He uses you to do exactly that, in this way iron sharpens iron, disciples in fellowship create better disciples (Proverbs 21:17).
When you associate with those who are also involved in this struggle to grow deep, their experiences will give you the knowledge, strength, and hope. You will profit from their experience; free wisdom for you. Since they are also spiritual aspirants like you, they will inspire you, strengthen your resolve, elevate your aim, and enable you to progress more surely on this difficult path of discipleship. You, in turn, will do the same for them, most likely unintentionally, the Holy Spirit will bring it about intimately and organically.
Who do you spend your time with? Do you have people in your life that tend to pull you away from God and God’s best for your life? Those are folks you need to spend less time with and replace that time spent with those who will lift you up and encourage your faith.
The third practice of growing deep is spending time with spiritual friends.
Attending to God is what worship is all about. A believer presents him or her self to God not only with the songs they sing but the things they do (Romans 12:1). Worship is totally life inclusive. Worship allows God to put Himself on display through you.
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)
“…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Whatever you do, do it acknowledging that God is the one who empowers you to accomplish the task you are involved in, doing a task filled with God’s grace makes God visible in you (Matthew 5:16). Work becomes worship, chores become praise, the secular becomes sacred as you consecrate every portion of your life to God. You encounter God through worship for the scripture reveals that God inhabits the praise of His people (Psalm 22:3).
Colossians 3:17 ; Romans 12:1 (MSG)
“Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father, every step of the way.” “So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”
If you can’t do what you do without it being an act of worship, without being able to present it to God as an offering then find something else to do. What have you made sacred in your life by giving it to God? This desire to worship changes your attitudes and thoughts towards the entire world.
The fourth practice of growing deep is worshiping God.
Jesus is praying for all those who are to become believers and says:
John 17: 3 (MSG)
And this is the real and eternal life: That they know you, The one and only true God, And Jesus Christ, whom you sent.
Growing deep is all about you knowing God on an intimate level. Not book knowledge as helpful as that may be, but on an experiential level, one created by encounters with the living God. Those encounters are created when you practice the seven habits of a disciple; sustain an upward focus; spend time with spiritual friends, and worshiping God.
It is only through your continued practice of growing deep that you will indeed grow deep and in growing deep produce an abundant harvest of righteousness.