VIDEO Deeper

Feb 1, 2016

Get “Deeper”

(Meredith Andrews / Mia Fieldes / Jacob Sooter)
2 Corinthians 4: 8-10, Romans 5: 3-5

I have kicked up the dust and the dirt on the narrow road
I have had to let go of some hurt to hold on to hope
I’ve watched the sunset before the promise came
I have waded through waters wide and walked through the flame
And I can say

CHORUS 1:
Every valley made me lift my eyes up
Every burden only made me stronger
Every sorrow only made Your joy go
Deeper and deeper, deeper, and deeper

I will run like I’m out to win, and finish the race
For every battle that’s sure to come I will be brave
I’ve got my heart set on every word You say
And no matter what lies ahead You’ll make a way
And I will say

CHORUS 2:
Every valley made me lift my eyes up
Every burden only made me stronger
Every sorrow only made Your joy go
Deeper and deeper, deeper, and deeper

Every mountain is making me a climber
Every giant is calling out a fighter
Every heartache only makes Your love go
Deeper and deeper, deeper, and deeper

Thrown down but not defeated
I’m worn out but not giving up
I’ve hit ground but even at rock bottom
I’m just getting started, Yea, I’m just getting started

Beyond Acquaintance

hands touching
The Lord is eternal, immortal, and invisible, but it’s possible to have a very real relationship with Him.

Many Christians think of communion as simply the ritual of sharing bread and wine (or grape juice) in remembrance of Jesus’ death on the cross. Yet it means far more than this single ordinance.

Charles Henry Mackintosh, the 19th-century Irish theologian, wrote, “Communion with God is the grand secret of the believer’s strength, and it is, therefore, of all importance that he should clearly and distinctly understand what it means, and in what it consists; and, moreover, that he should carefully guard against every thing like a counterfeit of it.”

READ 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 John 1:1-4.

Fellowship—or communion—with God is possible because He invites us into such a relationship. Scripture reveals that ever since the creation of Adam and for the measureless extent of eternity, God desires and takes great pleasure in having fellowship with His beloved children.

But life in the 21st century is busy. Some people barely manage to make any deep connections with loved ones (at times subsisting on social media interactions). How, then, can we fellowship with a God who can’t be experienced through our physical senses? Here are several suggestions:

• Probably the most obvious way to connect with God is prayer. Hundreds of scriptures contain the word “pray” or a variation. Verses like Matthew 26:41, 2 Chronicles 7:14, and James 5:16 show prayer a powerful tool that lets us approach God in repentance, adoration, petition, and thanksgiving. A consistent, fervent prayer life also guards us from temptation and confusion.

• Fasting, accompanied by prayer, can effectively focus our hearts and minds on the Lord and on specific concerns that need immediate attention (Matt. 6:16-18).

• Reading the Bible is a way to listen for what God wants to tell us. Healthy relationships involve give-and-take; communication must be more than a list of requests for the other party to fulfill. By searching Scripture as we talk to God, we invite Him to speak into our circumstances. A glimpse into someone’s heart and mind is a privilege in any relationship—but of immeasurable benefit when the other person is God. Knowing what’s important to Him helps us grow as Christians, learn obedience, avoid pitfalls, and become equipped witnesses (Ps. 119:105; John 14:23; 2 Tim. 3:16).

• Being still in God’s presence, especially when we feel anxious, may seem difficult because sitting quietly without doing anything is counterintuitive and countercultural. But in our silence, we can often hear God speaking (Ps. 46:10). And remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf and helps us in our time of weakness (Rom. 8:26).

• Meditation is different from being still before the Lord, which has to do with hearing Him speak to us. Meditation is taking time to reflect on Scripture and letting it sink in, or contemplating the awesomeness of God and His works (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 119:27, 97, 148; 143:5).

• Corporate worship is a way for Christians to fellowship with God while simultaneously deriving the benefit of mutual encouragement (Heb. 10:24-25). In some churches, the term seems to have devolved to mean little more than the song portion of the service, but true worship has to do with heart attitude and a desire to connect with the Lord.

• Obedience and submission to God are not only a means to a deeper relationship with God; they are also a result of it (John 14:23; James 2:14, 26). Our works don’t save us, but they do bear witness to our faith in Christ (Matt. 5:16).

REFLECT

• What light do the Scriptures above shed on your own concept of the word communion? Are there areas in your relationship with God that need more attention than you’ve been giving them?

• It’s easy for us to get caught up in the whirlwind of earthly activities and responsibilities and relegate quiet time with God to any leftover minutes we have at the end of the day or week. It can be especially tempting to justify this if what’s eating up our time and attention is ministry-related. The Bible, however, warns against letting fleshly concerns govern our minds (Rom. 8:7). Let Proverbs 3:9-10 and Matthew 6:33 be additional reminders that God blesses us when we put Him first in our lives.

RESPOND

• What are some practical ways you can immediately apply what you learned through this Bible study and pursue deeper communion with the Lord? If the thought of carving out extra time for Him seems impossible or arduous, ask God to increase your hunger for Him and His Word.

• Take a mental inventory (or a written one) of the priorities that battle for your attention. Resolve to eliminate any that hinder rather than enhance your communion with God.

REVISIT

• If you want a deeper experience of communing with the Lord, try spending some time with Psalm 119. At 176 verses, this psalm can take a while to read, but it also lends itself to helping us go deeper with God. The chapter is divided into 22 sections. Over the next 11 days, read two sections each day. Read slowly, meditating on the words and making them your own prayer to God. Note any verses you want to memorize or reflect on later.

• Brainstorm additional ways to have communion with God (other than those listed above), and be intentional about implementing one or more. If it would help, share your goals with a friend for accountability and support.

Illustration by Jeff Gregory

The Holy Spirit: Filling the Believer

Ephesians 5:15-21

A choice of enormous significance lies before every believer in Christ. God has given each one the responsibility of deciding who will rule his or her life. Christians are indwelt and sealed with the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation, but being filled with the Spirit—in other words, being led by Him—is optional.

From the moment we are saved, God’s Spirit will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). But by refusing to submit to His authority over every area of our life, we limit His work in and through us. He will not override our will but waits for us to choose Him.

The Lord wants you to have His power to overcome sin, to become the person He designed you to be, and to accomplish the work He has called you to do. The filling of the Spirit is His provision for this kind of supernatural living. Without it, the Christian life will be full of defeat and discouragement.

God wants to motivate us to desire His fullness, and He will use various methods. Sometimes He places a longing in our hearts to be closer to Him. Other times He uses our feelings of inadequacy and failure that result from trying to live in our own strength. The Lord even uses the example of other Spirit-filled believers to make us want what they have.

The Holy Spirit promises to fill a believer who is willing to yield all aspects of life to Him. This isn’t an instantaneous event, but a gradual peeling away of the layers of self-rule. As the heavenly Father reveals an area that you have kept under your own control, surrender it to Him, and let Him fill you with His Spirit.

The Dazzling Spider

“The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.” (Proverbs 30:28)

There is incredible detail and beauty in a typical spider web. Scientists have found that web strands are comparable in strength to fused quartz fibers. Zoologists discovered that spiders have one to four pairs of spinnerets located in their abdomen (the normal number are three pairs). In addition, there are seven silk glands, each making a strand for a unique purpose.

One silk gland produces thread for cocoons and another for wrapping up the prey. The two seem to be the same, but they require especially designed silk. Other glands make the walking thread so the spider doesn’t get snagged herself, while another makes the sticky material that captures the juicy dinner. Some of the finer threads are almost invisible to us unless the light is reflected just right. Yet spider silk is strong! Typically it has a tensile strength five times that of steel and elasticity—strong enough to stop a lumbering bumblebee at full speed.

Each spider engineers a style of web characteristic of its species and builds it perfectly on the first try. These complex glands and intricate design patterns have every evidence of design. It is obvious that the spider does not have the intelligence in its brain to learn how to do this. It is equally obvious that the ability to do so is already designed into the genetic instructions that were placed in the original spiders by their Creator.

Our text begins by Solomon noting “four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise,” and he lists the spider as one of those that are “wise.” Perhaps we could learn “wisdom” from them. HMM III

That I Might Know Him

I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. —Philippians 3:8

What I’m preaching to try to bring about in the Church of Jesus Christ is a rediscovery of the loveliness of the Savior that we might begin to love Him again with the intensity of love such as our fathers knew…. I have said before and I repeat it now that the power and greatness of A.B. Simpson was not in his theology, for he positively was not a great theologian compared, for instance, with John Calvin or some of the other theologians. The power and greatness of the man lay in his unquenchable love for the Person of Jesus Christ the Lord….

There are certain things God let Paul have. He let him have a book or two, let him have a coat, and let him have his own hired house for two years in one instance… but Paul never allowed those things to touch his heart. Any external treasure that touches your heart is a curse. Paul said, “I give that up so that I might know Him. That I might go on to deeply enriched and increasing intimacy and vast expanses of knowledge of the One who is intimate and illimitable in His beauty. And that I might know Him, I give all this up.” He never allowed anything to touch his heart.

Lord, wean me from the lure of earthly pleasures. Take me to that depth of which Paul speaks, that I would willingly give up all to know You more intimately. Amen.

Real Two-way Traffic

Straightway the father of the child cried, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief. (Mark 9:24)

In the uncertainty of our times, the traffic between faith and unbelief is tragically heavy, as the Scriptures declared it would be. But we may encourage our hearts with the knowledge that the traffic does not always move in the direction of unbelief—sometimes it moves the other way!

Every now and then the cheering news comes of some “liberal” who gets sick to his stomach of the mixture of applied psychology and cheap poetry, and comes home like the prodigal to the Father’s house. It is true that the movement from orthodoxy to liberalism is usually slow; almost too slow to be perceived. I have never heard of a single instance where any person accepted modernism as a result of a spiritual experience.

But the movement back to faith is likely to be sudden, often explosive. A man or woman is converted to Christ by a sudden encounter with God and spiritual things!

The simple fact that the believer always experiences something and the unbeliever never does should tell us a great deal. Only the true Christian is sure the sun has risen!

Not only when thou wast born into the world did Christ love thee

Not only when thou wast born into the world did Christ love thee, but his delights were with the sons of men before there were any sons of men. Often did he think of them; from everlasting to everlasting he had set his affections upon them. I am sure he would not have loved me so long if he had not been a changeless Lover. If he could grow weary of me he would have been tired of me long before now. If he had not loved me with a love as deep as life and as strong as death, he would have turned from me long ago. Oh, joy above all joys, to know that I am his everlasting and inalienable inheritance, given to him by his Father.