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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - Consistent Christians

Craig Smith - Consistent Christians

Craig Smith - Consistent Christians
TOPICS: Don't Come To Church, Church, Christianity, Integrity

Well, hey, welcome to all of our locations. So glad you’re with us. Before we dive in today’s teaching, actually I wanna celebrate something that God’s done in somebody’s life, and they’ve responded to it in faith. Janice is part of our church. She’s been a part of our church for a long time, but she actually lives in Glenrock, Wyoming, and she joins us every weekend through our Online Campus. And recently, she reached out to us, and she said, “I really wanna be a mission in my community. Could it be okay if I like use the livestream of the weekend service to, like, invite people to come to my house, and we could like do church in Glenrock?” and we were like, “Yeah. Yeah, that’d be okay.” In fact, we put together a team that kind of tried to figure out how to support her in doing that. And so, this Wednesday, for the first time ever, we’re gonna be launching our first what we’re gonna call a microsite in Glenrock, Wyoming, so, Janice, we’re so proud of you to be on mission with Jesus all the way up there in the wilds of Wyoming.

And honestly, I don’t know that I could make up a better way to launch this little sort of ramp up to Easter. We’re doing a series called “Be the Church” or, “Don’t Come to Church, Be the Church,” and that’s kind of what we’re talking about. I don’t know about you, when I was a little kid, my mom taught me this little thing where she had me put my hands together like this, some of you are way ahead of me, and what we had to do we had to say, you know, “Here is the church, and here is the steeple, open the doors and you see all the people,” anybody else?

Yeah. That’s a terrible thing to teach a child. It really is because what that taught me from the very beginning was that church is a building. Hopefully, it’s a building that’s filled with people, but the church is really the building, and that’s just not true. Right? I mean, the Church isn’t a building, the Church is the people, it’s the people in the Church. That’s the Church. It’s the people of God on mission with Jesus. Church isn’t a building we come through. It’s a mission we choose to be part of as the people of God. That’s really what this series is all about. What does it look like to be the Church that God has called us to?

Why don’t you go and grab a Bible and start making your way to the Book of Acts 2? What we’re gonna be doing for the next couple weeks is looking at a very short passage in the Book of Acts that I would call a load-bearing passage in the sense that even though it’s pretty short it has a lot of truth, and there’s a lot riding on understanding what it says. And what we’re gonna see in here is a description of some things that were true in the life of the earliest followers of Jesus, the very first group of people who gathered together to become like Jesus and join him on a mission in the world. And we’re gonna see some things that they did and some things that God did kind of in response to that commitment on their parts to be the Church that God had called them to.

And here’s the way he begins the description, we’re in Chapter 2, Verse 42 of the Book of Acts, he says this, he says, “They devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. And everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the Apostles. All the believers were together, and they had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day, they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

And I think we probably all agree this sounds like a church where there’s a lot going on, doesn’t it? It sounds like the kind of church we’d probably all like to be part of. Can I get an amen on that? Yeah. I mean if you think about it, so, I mean, they’re seeing miracles, how many of us would like to see miracles? Yeah, that’d be pretty cool. They had radical generosity, they were selling stuff so they could practice radical, not just generosity, but radical community, they’re taking care of each other. So those things are going on. They had a great reputation with the whole community, which I think is awesome because in that time the community really didn’t know what they thought about Jesus, but it says they had a great reputation. It means they didn’t know what they thought about Jesus, but everybody liked his people. Like, that’s kind of the opposite of the way it is today. I mean you get a lot people today like, “I like Jesus. I just don’t like his friends,” or I don’t like Christians.

They had the other way around. They didn’t know what they thought about Jesus, but they had a great reputation. The people of Jesus had a great reputation with those in the community. That’s pretty cool. And he says they were growing. They were having numbers added daily, not because people were transferring from other churches because they weren’t in here other churches, but they were giving their lives to Jesus and their creatures growing because of that. That sounds like some pretty amazing stuff. Now, the question then really becomes, “Was the church doing anything that sort of set the stage for that?” Because everything that’s being described there as the work of God, do you understand that? Everything that’s being described that was happening, that’s something that only God can do. You can’t make that happen. There’s no technique or strategy that can make God move in those ways, but what we see in Verse 42 is there were some things they were doing that kind of set the stage and invited God to walk out on that stage and then to do what only God could do. And in Verse 42, we actually see four things that they were doing to kind of set the stage for God to do what only he could do.

Verse 42 says this again, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer,” four things they were devoted to. Now, if you’ve got a Bible that you can kind of make a note in, I’d love for you to circle that word “devoted” and maybe even make a sideline note because that word, devoted, in English kind of sounds like it was something they did. It was a past tense thing, and it was, but in the Greek there’s a particular kind of verb that says, “This didn’t just happen once, it actually happened constantly.” It was consistent and moved on, and on, and on, and there’s no real way to do that in English other than to add some words. And so in English what we’d have to say to kind of capture the thought is that they were consistently devoting themselves.

That’s what Luke says here, Luke, when he wrote this, and he says, “They were consistently devoting themselves to these four things.” Why is that important? Because consistency is key. Do you understand that? Because this is key in so many areas, one of my favorite leadership coaches, he’s also a pastor in Oklahoma, but he teaches a lot in leadership, and he says something that I think is so true and so powerful. He says, “Successful people do consistently what others do occasionally.” Successful people do consistently what others do occasionally. We have a tendency to look at successful people and go, you know, “”They know something we don’t know.” Right? They have some secret sauce, some behind-the-scenes piece of knowledge, or some practice that they’re doing what we’re not doing. And the reality is if you look at successful people in almost any area of life, it’s not that they know something different than anybody else, they’re just doing consistently what the rest of us are doing occasionally.

I mean, think about athletes. Successful athletes don’t train occasionally. They train what? Consistently, all the time. Successful students don’t study every now and then, they study consistently. Successful parents don’t discipline their children occasionally, they discipline them consistently. Consistency is the key. And so what we could say for Christians, we could say successful Christians do consistently what others do occasionally. Successful Christians do consistently what others do occasionally. In other words, people who are consistently becoming like Jesus, steadily growing in their faith, becoming religious, and joining him on mission, they’re doing consistently what a lot of other people just do every now and then.

You know, we probably all have somebody in our lives that we tend to look at and go, “Man, they’re just killing it,” when it comes to following Jesus. Right? I mean they just always seem to becoming more spiritually mature and just growing in their sensitivity to the Spirit and all those things. They’re just killing it, and God seems to be using them. They’re just constantly taking steps of faith, and God’s working through them, and things are happening, like, “What is that they know?” like, “Is there a part of the Bible that they’ve read that I’ve never come across?” or, “You know, I bought my Bible at a discount book distributor,” like, “do they have a book that’s not in mine? What do they know that I don’t know? What’s their secret sauce?” And the answer honestly isn’t that they know something that we don’t know, or that they’re doing something we’re not doing. What’s typically the case is that successful Christians are doing consistently what others are only doing occasionally, which means, and this is an important key to a healthy church, it means that healthy churches prioritize developing consistent Christians. That’s really the key to a healthy church. We prioritize developing consistent Christians.

So the question then is, “So what are the things that consistent Christians do?” Well, Luke gives us four things here. First thing is this, he says this, he says, “Healthy Christians consistently learn from gifted teachers.” Healthy Christians consistently learn from gifted teachers. What he says is that they were devoting themselves, consistently devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching. Now, the apostles were the 12 guys who followed Jesus day in and day out. After Jesus’ resurrection, they became the leaders of the early church, and the Holy Spirit gifted them to teach people. Now, there was some information involved in that. The apostles were able to give them some information. They were able to say, “Yeah, here’s what Jesus said. Here’s what Jesus did.” That’s information.

But I want to push in for just a quick moment here because sometimes we have a feeling that, I think especially in the modern world, that, you know, the essence of teaching is dispensing information. and it’s really not. Good teaching isn’t about giving information, it’s about creating transformation. Gifted teachers empowered by the Holy Spirit, they do more than just tell us facts, they push into that and they help us to understand what does that mean, and what does that look like for our lives, and that’s what the apostles were gifted by the Holy Spirit to do. They could say, “Well, Jesus did this, he said this, and here’s what this means. Here’s the significance of it, and this is what this looks like in our lives,” and so they were pushing transformation of character.

And I mentioned that because sometimes I think, especially in the modern world, we have a feeling like, “Well, you know, if I can just get information, then that’s enough,” in which case we don’t really need teachers because we live in an era where you can get all the information, can’t you? Right? I mean how many of you own a Bible? How many of you own more than one? I’m not gonna ask how many of you’re reading it, we’ll meddle with that later. But do you understand that if you own a Bible, you are an incredibly rare minority? In the course of the last 2,000 years, only a small sliver of Christians had access to God’s Word on a daily basis, they had access to a whole Bible. That’s a fairly new phenomenon. And even today there are Christians all over the world that don’t have access to that.

So, you have information in God’s Word. Information is not the same thing as transformation, and you got Google. Even if you don’t own a physical Bible, you can get all the Bibles online. And you can’t just get the Bibles, you can get commentaries on the Bibles. You can get scholars for the last 2,000 years, that stuff has been digitized. You can find out what great thinkers and leaders of the churches have spoken about what the Scripture means. You can actually find Greek and Hebrew texts where you just point at the words and a little pop-up window will tell you exactly what that word is in English, give you multiple translations and tell you other places that word occurs. I mean that’s all information, and that’s powerful, and it’s an important part of teaching. But gifted teachers are enabled by the Holy Spirit to move beyond giving information, to leading to transformation. And in fact, here’s a reality that I’ve come to understand, sometimes the more content we consume, the less character we actually cultivate. Do you hear me? Sometimes more content we consume, the less character we cultivate because we’re just gorging on information, and gifted teachers go beyond that.

This has really brought home to me, not too long ago. I’ve sort of been struggling through what exactly God was calling me to do and how to describe what I think God was stirring up in my soul about what it meant to be gifted by the Spirit to teach, and I had a mentor who said something about his own teaching that I really paid attention to, partly because he and I teach very similarly. We teach what we call expository teaching. We walk through passages of the Scripture verse by verse and unpack it. He does exactly the same thing. So, it really caught my attention when he said, “Yeah, my job’s not to teach the Bible.” I was like, “What do you mean? I’ve never heard you do anything other than teach the Bible.” He said, “Yeah, my job is not to teach the Bible, my job is to help people follow Jesus using the Bible as my only authority.”

And I thought, “That’s what God’s been stirring up in me.” It’s not about information, it’s about transformation, it’s about pushing into developing character, that’s what gifted teachers do. And the Bible, as our authority, it’s the Word of God, is the only place that we get the information we need, but gifted teachers, it’s more than just dispensing information, it’s about developing character. And so, here’s what I wanna tell you about healthy Christians that are consistently learning from gifted teachers, you need to take an action related to that. Here’s the action point I’m gonna give to you, cultivate your character through gifted teaching weekly. Healthy Christians need to be cultivating their character through gifted teaching weekly.

Now, you might say, “Well, why wait? Why weekly? I mean I can listen to podcasts, I’ve got access to internet, I can listen to gifted teachers every hour.” Remember what I said? Sometimes the more content we consume, the less character we actually cultivate. I had a woman tell me what was… .I know it was intended to be a compliment, she said, she told me that God was using me in her life, and I’m grateful for that, but she said she’s kind of new to Mission Hills, and she said, “So I caught up on your teaching last week,” I said, “What do you mean?” she said, “I binge listened to every sermon you’ve taught.” Like in a week? And it’s flattering, and I’m glad God’s using it, but I question how much real character got cultivated in that experience. Because it was a consumption of content to the point that there wasn’t really the opportunity to just settle in and let the Holy Spirit like push things in and wrestle with what does this look like in our lives. And so, yeah, I know that we can listen to gifted teachers. I listen to gifted teachers more than one a week, and God uses them in my life. But I think sometimes we actually need to actually kind of narrow it down a little bit so that what God’s doing through those teachers has the chance to take root in us.

And some of you may be going, “You’re talking about listening to a gifted teacher, well what about like reading God’s Word for yourself? I mean if we have access to it, shouldn’t we be reading it?” Absolutely, we should. You should be engaging God’s Word daily, strongly, strongly encourage that. The reason I’m not really like pushing into that is because in this passage God’s talking about the role that gifted teachers, that anointed teachers have in your life for your benefit. We need to be engaging that on a weekly basis. Why? Because healthy Christians consistently learn from gifted teachers. It’s one of the things they do.

Second one is that healthy Christians consistently connect with other Christians. What Luke says here is that they were devoting themselves to fellowship. Now, let’s just acknowledge fellowship is a word that we don’t use much in English language anymore. In fact, as near as I can tell, the only places you’re gonna hear the word fellowship these days, three places, the church, academic circles, and people who like to talk about hobbits. I’m just saying. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you should talk to somebody who’s laughing after the service.

That’s the only place we hear the word fellowship, but fellowship really just boils down to, it means connecting with people. And when I say connecting, I don’t mean like saying hi as you pass by them. That’s not a connection, that’s a verbal high-five. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s the difference between, you know, Doritos and a healthy meal. There’s nothing wrong with Doritos, and don’t send me e-mail saying otherwise, there is nothing wrong with Doritos, but there’s no substituting Doritos for a healthy meal. And when we’re talking about fellowship, we’re talking about connecting with other Christians, we’re talking about getting to know people and having a context in which we go beyond the surface, go deeper into each other’s lives, and so we know each other, we’re known by each other, and when we move past the surface level stuff, that’s when the real heart stuff begins to happen. That’s when we begin to really love each other and support each other.

You know, we saw last week that Jesus is our certainty, but it’s people who are our security, and it’s in those connections with others we really begin to experience that. Being connected to other Christians is really important. You know why that is? It’s because whether we like it or not you and I are herd animals. You understand that? Like nobody ever picks herd animals. If somebody says to you, “Hey, you know, what animal would you like to be?” we always pick things like, “I’d like to be a panther, that’d be super sweet. I’d like to be a wolf, an eagle.” Nobody ever says cow. It just never happens. But, honestly, we’re a lot more like cows than we’re like wolves.

And even wolves, you know, when we’re talking about wolves we have this phrase like “lone wolf,” and we always say it with a little bit of admiration. We even use it for people who seem to be independent, self-sufficient, self-made, but, you know what, there’s no such thing as a lone wolf. And, in fact, people who study wolves will tell you, “You know what a lone wolf is? It’s a wolf in search of a new pack.” It’s a wolf that’s lost its pack for whatever reason and is looking for another one, and while they’re in between packs they’re not healthy. Their diet is worse, their health is worse, and apparently, they show significant signs of depression. Wolves get depressed when they’re alone. And that’s wolves, how much more are herd animals?

And we’re definitely herd animals because the beginning of Scripture, first page, Genesis, it goes through a list of things that He makes and at the end of each thing, He says, “It’s good. It’s good. It’s good. It’s good.” And then, in Chapter 2, we kind of sort of zoom in on the creation of human being and he talks about the fact that he made Adam first, he made the man first, and God looked at the man and said, “It’s not good,” Not the man, he finished and said, “It’s not good for the man to be alone.” We’re made to be in connection with other people. It’s necessary. So, what do we do? What’s the action point? Join a group, join a group. If you’re not part of a group, you need to join a group. We’re passionate about groups in Mission Hills because we believe that life is better together. We believe that development as Christians happens in the context of those groups. That’s where so much of it really begins to take place. As a staff here, we have a value that we often talk about, what we call the Value Tribe, and what we say is that we do together what’s far too big for us to ever accomplish alone.

And that’s true in the world, but it’s also true in our own lives, the transformation that God wants to make happen in our character, to make us more like Jesus, helping join him on mission, that happens in these groups, that happens and we do life together. And so, join a group if you’re not a part of one. We have all kinds of groups here. We have men only groups, and women only groups, and we have things we call Hope Groups that are built around things that people are struggling through. We have Life Groups, we have Sunday School Groups, we have groups for the sole purpose of putting people in a place where they can develop this community where three things happen.

Number one, they love each other, number two, they challenge each other and help each other become like Jesus, and number three, help each other join Jesus on mission, and we think all that happens in groups. So, if you’re not part of a group, find a group to be part of. You can go to the Mission Hills app, you can download that from wherever you get the apps on your smartphone, or you can go to, and you can find a group that’s convenient for you. But I’m gonna strongly encourage you to do that because this is one of the main things that healthy Christians do. Healthy Christians consistently connect with other Christians.

The third thing that Luke tells us is that healthy Christians consistently reflects on what God has done for them, consistently reflect on what God has done for them. What he says is that they were devoted to or consistently devoted to breaking bread, and breaking bread there is a way that the early Christians talked about practicing something we call Communion because the night before Jesus went to the cross, he had a meal with his followers, and he took a piece of bread, and he broke it, and that’s where the phrase comes from, and he said, “This is my body. This represents my body that’s broken for you for the forgiveness of sins,” because see, our sin breaks things. It breaks our relationship with God, it breaks our relationship with others, it breaks the world itself that we were made caretakers of. Our sin breaks things, and there’s a price to it.

The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death,” and Jesus’s own death paid the price for that sin, and so his broken body is what healed our brokenness. And for a very long time, Christians have consistently come back to this little meal where we take a piece of bread and we drink a small cup, and what we’re doing is we’re remembering what God has done for us. We’re not just remembering that it happened, we’re reflecting on the significance of it, what it means for us. And Communion itself really is it’s building on a former foundation, something we call Passover, which for thousands of years the Jewish people have done. It’s a meal where they reflect on what God has done for them going all the way back to the way that He set them free from their slavery in Egypt. Then Communion builds on that, and we reflect on what God did to set us free from our sin, set us free for a life with him.

This reflection business is important, and here’s why, let me let you in on why this is so important. Because remembering the enormity of what God has done for us puts what he hasn’t into perspective. You hear me? Remembering the enormity of what God has done for us puts the things that he hasn’t into perspective. How many of you are praying for God to do something in your life? How many of you are feeling like he’s taking his own sweet time and you really wish he’d hurry up? Yeah. I think we all have those things, and here’s what happens, when we focus on those things he hasn’t done, they begin to feel a whole lot bigger, and then when we focus on them, the bigger they seem they get, and the bigger the same they get, the more prone we are to become frustrated with God, and then to move to anger and then even to bitterness, which drives an unbelievable wedge between us and our Heavenly Father. And the remedy for that is to focus on the enormity of the things that he has done because it puts everything else in perspective.

Let me just kind of give you an example from my own life. A lot of you know, I’ve shared it before, and I have permission to. You know, my youngest daughter is continuing to struggle with some chronic abdominal pain, and we’ve done all kinds of routes, and we just haven’t figured it out yet. We’re continuing down that route, but here’s the thing, I’m praying every day that God would heal her. I don’t care if he heals her directly, or if he uses a doctor, I don’t care, God will get the credit for that, every day I’m praying for that, but he hasn’t done it yet. It’s been almost a year, and it’d be really easy to let that thing become so big, that frustration, and anger, and bitterness follow from it, and the only remedy honestly is to remember to reflect on the enormity of the things that he has done for my daughter.

You know what he’s done for my little girl? First off, he loves her so much he sent his Son to die for her. That’s how much my Father loves my daughter. By the way, if you’re here today you need to understand that God loves you the same way. He loves you so much he sent his own Son to die for you. And maybe you’re struggling with an issue in your life, and you’re wondering why God hasn’t moved, and why God hasn’t done this, and you need to remember, you need to understand this very central, all-important truth, God loves you so much he sent his own Son to die for you.

He did that for my daughter, and he brought my daughter to faith in that sacrifice. He brought my daughter to the place where she said, “I said yes to Jesus,” she put her trust in what Jesus did on the cross for her in his resurrection. And so, God has saved my daughter, and so I know regardless of what happens in this life, I’ve got an eternity of a life with her in perfect health. That’s a big deal. We’re just getting started. My daughter’s a PK. If you know what a PK is, that means a pastor’s kid. It’s not always a recipe for a long and healthy relationship with God and his people. And for my youngest daughter, actually, she was at a very significant stage in her development when honestly, our life in the church was not easy. We had a lot of struggles going on in the church, a lot of frustrations with the leadership in the church where I was serving in as an associate pastor, and she saw a lot of tears and bitterness, not bitterness from us, but bitterness that began to grow in her towards the church and the difficulty, and she got to this point where honestly she was not okay with the church, and that could have very easily turned into not being so okay with God.

I think God, in his mercy, in his grace, he put a couple of people in her life at just the right moment, and she pivoted. The church didn’t get all better, but she began to see it differently, and bitterness, and anger, and resentment wasn’t the road that she walked, and I’m so grateful for God doing that. That’s what God’s done for my daughter. That’s a big deal. And in the process of doing that, he also began to stir up in her a passion for the lost, a passion for people that don’t know Jesus. Her specific area of passion is people who are in bondage to a lie that gets taught in our culture that you and I are accidents, in other words the lie of naturalistic evolution. She’s deeply passionate about people who have been given that story, that lie, and setting them free for that. That seems to be the path that God has her on. And even in the midst of dealing with this chronic pain, she’s grown more empathetic and more passionate towards people. That’s a big deal. And, you know, I look at all that, and I remember all of that, and I give thanks for all that, and you know what happens? It puts that thing that God hasn’t done yet into perspective. I’m still praying for it. I’m still waiting for God to show up and do that thing, but in the meantime, I’m reflecting on the enormity of what He’s done for and it’s putting that one thing in perspective.

So, what do we do? Well, here’s what we do, we develop a rhythm of remembrance. We develop a rhythm of remembrance. That’s what Luke’s talking about here, a rhythm by which we’re always drawn back to reflecting on what God has done, the enormity of it which puts this other stuff in perspective. Now, you know, one of the things that we do kind of following their model is once a month we do Communion here at Mission Hills. That’s part of a rhythm of remembrance. But honestly, every single week we do something that’s a rhythm of remembrance and that’s worship. We come together and we sing songs, and worship is more than songs, but that’s one of the ways we engage. And if you look at the words of those songs that we sing, what you’re gonna see is they’re all about remembering and reflecting on what God has done for us. We’re singing songs of praise because we’re saying God has done this and we’re giving thanks to him for who he is and what he’s done for us, his goodness and his kindness. That’s an important part of our rhythm of remembrance. And so, I know that the series is called ‘”Don’t Come to Church,” but I’m telling you, you need to come to church or you need to come together as the Church. It’s an important part of this rhythm of remembrance.

You know, you also need to have conversations maybe once a week with friends or in your family where you ask the question, “Hey, what have you seen God do this week?” and you reflect on it. We have those rhythms in our family, one of them is that every year at Christmas, some of you have heard this before, but every year at Christmas, every ornament that goes on the tree, we actually say, you know, “This ornament reminds me of this thing that God did this year.” It’s become on my favorite things. It’s also a little weird because we have a bunch of really strange ornaments. Like I ran across this one last year, I think it’s supposed to be an angel, but it looks like a baby with gout and a couple of wings. I have no idea where it came from or why we own it. I think people sneak this stuff into our house throughout the year, and I won’t tell you what that reminded me of that God did, but that’s what we do. Every ornament that goes up, we go, you know, “This reminds me of something, this is something we saw God do.” That’s just part of the rhythm in our family because those things are so important because healthy Christians consistently reflect on what God has done for them. So, you need that rhythm of remembrance. And the fourth thing we’re told is this, is that, “Healthy Christians consistently invite God into their lives.” The way Luke says it is they devoted themselves to prayer.

And here’s the thing about prayer. I think a lot of people experience a very unfortunate confusion about prayer because there’s a lot of mixed messages. Sometimes it’s just overly complicated. People say things like, “Well, you know, prayer is a conversation with God,” and people are like, “I’ve been talking to him, but I feel more like it’s a monologue happening. Haven’t heard anything back, didn’t feel like a conversation,” and some people go, “Well, you know, prayer is putting a request before God. It’s asking for what we need,” and other people will go, “No, no, no, no. You know, God’s not a vending machine, God’s not Santa Claus, prayer is not just asking for things.” “Well, you know, well, what is prayer then?” “Well, prayer is, you know, telling God what’s going on in your life, you know,” “But like, yeah, but doesn’t God already know that?” And sometimes all those things that are said about prayer, they’re all true, but sometimes they can make it just way more complicated than it is. Honestly, prayer is inviting God into our lives. It is telling God what we’re going through. And yes, God already knows what you’re going through, but he wants to hear it from you. You understand that?

You know, my oldest daughter is fairly active on social media. I can keep up with most of what’s going on her life through her social media. That is no substitute for hearing from her. I think it’s the same way with God. God knows, but he wants to hear it from you because he’s your loving Father, and it’s about relationship. Prayer is thinking through things and inviting God, “God, would you lead my thoughts in this? Would you show me how to think about this? What are your thoughts on this? Would you guide me? Would you lead me?” It is asking God for the things that we need, and yes, God knows what you need, but let’s just be completely honest. Sometimes God doesn’t give what you need until you ask, you know that? That’s what God himself says, James 4:2, He says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” You don’t invite him into your need with prayer.

And you go, “How can a good God do that? Why wouldn’t a good God just go ahead and give us?” Because he’s too good to just give you everything you need without making sure that you understand where it’s coming from. Right? You know we sometimes say that. . .I was told this growing up, and I don’t know if any of you were, or if you’ve used these own words with your kids, but we say things like, “You know, money doesn’t grow on trees,” and the point is you need to know where this is coming from. Right? God has a very similar kind of a mentality. If he just gives us everything we need without ever causing us to look to the only One who’s the source of all good gifts, that’s actually not for our good. That creates entitled, selfish, bratty children. So, he says, “No, you need to ask. Sometimes you don’t have because you haven’t invited me into your need.” So what do we do? Well, here’s the action point, just take the next step towards consistent prayer, towards inviting God into our lives through prayer

You know, we said this with generosity, we said nobody goes from being Ebenezer Scrooge to Bill Gates overnight, so what’s the next step? And I think we can practice the same kind of thing with prayer. If you’re not praying at all, if you’ve never prayed, start praying. Start praying at least occasionally. If you’re praying some, start trying to pray daily. You know, maybe if you set your alarm and you need just two minutes. That’s the next step, maybe two minutes when that alarm goes off that you’re gonna invite God into your life, share with him what’s going on in your life, and what it is that you’re looking for, what you need, and submitting to him, and trusting him as a good Father.

Or maybe, I put up a website there, is a church website, but there’s a little sub thing called “Mission Watch,” it’s a new ministry that we’ve got going on when we’re asking people to come together. You sign up for one slot, and so for once a week for a month, you go in at that one time you signed up for, and you have this little video to kind of walk you through what you’re gonna be praying for, and there’s a bulleted list, and there’s other people praying online at the same time. And we’re praying for God to move in our church and through our church in the community and in the Front Range…you know, we have this vision to reach every lost person in the Front Range by unleashing an army of missional followers. We know that’s never gonna happen unless God moves in and through us. And so, we’re inviting God in to do that. And so maybe that’s a step, go sign up for one of those slots right now, before the day is over maybe you do that. Why? Because healthy Christians consistently invite God into their lives through prayer. That’s the fourth thing. Healthy Christians consistently invite God into their lives through prayer.

So, what have we learned? Well, number one, we’ve learned that healthy churches prioritize developing consistent Christians. It’s not a secret sauce, it’s not something everybody else knows that you haven’t figured out, no, it’s about consistency, because successful Christians do consistently what others do occasionally. And what are the things that Luke tells us here? And, by the way, there’s more than these four. And so maybe I didn’t touch your favorite one today, you’re like, “Why didn’t he talk about that one?” Because we’re working our way through this passage. And it’s faster if there’s four things. There are more than these four, but these four are foundational, these four are absolutely indispensable. Number one, healthy Christians learn from gifted teachers, number two, they connect with other Christians, number three, they reflect on what God has done in their lives, and number four, they invite God into their lives through prayer.

These are foundational. So, what happens when we do these? Incredible things, as we’re gonna see next week. Really, these four things seem to set the stage that then God walks out on and God does what only God can do. He’s looking for us to set the stage for him to do what only he can do. We’re gonna unpack kinda what that looks like next week, so make sure you don’t miss that. But incredible things happen when we are consistent in these things.

So, here’s my question to you today. Which of these four things is least consistent in my life? I’m gonna challenge you to wrestle with that question and understand that…I just want you to pick one of them, find the one that’s least consistent because if you say, “You know, I need to work on all four of these. I’m definitely gonna fix all four of these today,” no, you’re not. We’re gonna get this time next week and you’ll be like, “Well, that was a miserable failure.” Because it’s too much. So, what’s the one that’s least consistent your life? Identify that one and then ask the very basic follow-up question which is, What am I gonna do about it? We’ve talked about a number of action points today. Which one of those action points am I gonna take to begin making that one the more consistent in my life, to begin laying the foundation of the stage that God steps out on and does what only he can do in my life and in our life as a church? Would you pray with me?

Jesus, thank you for your goodness to us. Thank you for your love for us. Thank you for your sacrifice on our behalf. And, Lord, thank you that you’re not done. Thank you that you want to move in us and you want to move through us. Well, we want to be the kind of people that set the stage and then step back and watch as you do what only you can do. So would you move in us as a church. That we know the Church is not a building, it’s your people. And so, Lord, there’s no healthy church without healthy Christians, so would you move in us and you make us healthy? Lord, you make us consistent in these areas, and show us the area that we’d really need to push into by the power of your Holy Spirit this week, reveal to us that area that we need to make a step forward in consistency. We want to set that stage and then watch you do incredible things among us and through us in the world.

Now, if you’re a follower of Jesus, would you do me a favor, would you begin praying for the people around you, people who are watching online from all over the world right now? Because I believe there are a number of people right now who found that what really resonated today, what really grab their attention, that it wasn’t all this talk about consistency, those things, it was just this very simple idea that God loves you, that he loves you so much he sent his own Son to die for you, that he has done this for you, and that having been raised from the dead, Jesus is offering forgiveness, new life, adoption into the family of God, eternal life, and that is what God is offering you right now.

And if you’ve never received the gift of forgiveness and eternal life, there’s no reason for you to leave this time together without that. And if something is stirring in your heart and you’re ready to put your faith in Jesus and receive that new life, would you just slip your hand up? That’s awesome, fantastic. If you’re watching online, just click the button right below me, and wherever you are in your heart you just say this, just have this conversation with God. You say:

God, I’ve done wrong, and I’m sorry. I know I don’t really deserve a relationship with you but thank you for loving me anyway. Jesus, thank you for dying in my place to forgive my sin. I believe that you rose from the dead and that you’re offering me new life, forgiveness, love. Jesus, I’m ready to say yes to you. I’m ready to put my faith in you. So, Jesus, come into my life. I trust you. I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.

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