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Sunday, May 1, 2016 am

 

SPIRITUAL INDICATORS

 

There are times in our lives where we need to step back and take a look at where we are at right now.  Accountants encourage us to occasionally review our portfolio to see if we are on track to reach our goals.  If we are concerned about our health, we will occasionally go to the doctor for a physical to see if we are healthy.   WE may occasionally take our car to the mechanic for a tune-up and to look it over to make sure it is running properly.  In each of these situations, the examiner has a set of criteria he will look at to see if everything is ok.  The accountant will look at your assets and investments to see if there are areas that need correcting or tweaking.   The doctor has a check list as he does blood work, checks your eyes, ears, throat, blood pressure, heart rate, etc.    The results are measured by the standard of what is considered healthy.  If there are problems, corrective measures will be given.  Similarly, the mechanic checks your engine, breaks, fluid levels, suspension, etc. according to the specifications of your car to make sure the car it is reliable or to see if corrective measures need to be taken.

We regularly engage in such examinations with our material possessions and health.  But what our spiritual health?  The Bible tells us that our bodies are going to wear out (Eccl. 12:1-8, James 4:14, etc.).  But our souls are going to live on eternally, so it behooves us to take care of our spiritual bodies as well. 

In 2 Corinthians 13:5 we are called upon to examine ourselves.   A part of going on to perfection is occasionally auditing your spiritual state.   You need to look at where you are and compare that with where you OUGHT TO be.  We are warned in passages such as Hebrews 2:1, “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. We cannot accomplish that unless we take a look at the big picture of our spiritual lives from time to time.  So with that in mind we want to notice some things to consider as we are examining ourselves.   We might call this a spiritual inventory.

Spiritual indicators.” An indicator is a device or standard that tells you where you are in comparison to where you ought to to be.    A spiritual indicator is a standard (the Bible) that we use to measure where we are as it relates to where we should be.  These are indicators that can help us determine whether or not we are maturing as we ought to.  In this lesson we are going to briefly notice some spiritual indicators we can use to help us examine our spiritual health. 

We are going to ask some questions for each of us to consider?  And as we ask these questions, we must be brutally honest with ourselves!

 I.                     What Is My Priority?

a.       A priority is a thing regarded as more important than another, that which is first. 
In a recent lesson, it was explained that there can only be one TRUE priority.  There may be many things of different levels of importance, but that which is your priority is that which is first.   Understanding this, what is your priority?

b.       Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God…”    We frequently quote this verse and others like it, but do we genuinely put it into practice?

c.        Matthew 10:37-38, He who loves father or mother more than me…

d.       Acts 5:29, Peter with the other apostles stood before the council and said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

e.       This is easy for us to say, but do we genuinely put it into practice?  When faced with a choice between serving God or something you want to do, what typically wins out?
What if you were the rich, young ruler (Matthew 19), what would you do?
What if you were Peter standing before the council, what would you say?
What if you were in Joseph’s place before Potiphar’s wife?
As you read scripture, honestly ask yourself, “What if I were like…?”

 II.                   How Much Do I Study the Bible?

a.       The Bible is more than another book of philosophy.  It is the word of God!   It is imperative that we treat it as such.  
The Bible is how God communicates with us today.  It is our only hope of knowing what pleases Him.

b.       1 Thessalonians 2:13, they received it as the word of God in truth. 
2 Tim. 3:16-17 tells us that with it we have all that we need.

c.        Matthew 28:19-20 – The “great commission” of Jesus – Go and make disciples – baptizing and teaching them to observe ALL things commanded.  We cannot fulfill this command without Bible study!

d.       2 Timothy 2:15 – be diligent to present yourself approved unto God

e.       1 Peter 3:15 – be ready to give a defense. 

f.         Psalm 1:1-2, blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord…

g.       How much do I know of God’s word?   Do I know more now than when I first obeyed?  Do I know more than last year?  Do I have a plan to learn? 
Am I able to share His word with others?  Am I sure that I know I am right? 

Recall how Hebrews 5:12-14 rebuked them because they had not learned as they ought to. Do I have a good grasp of what is being discussed in Bible classes? 
The way you are growing in the grace and knowledge of God is a spiritual indicator? (2 Peter 1:3)

 III.                 Do I Pray as I Ought To?

a.       Effective communication is a two-way street.   Just as the Bible is how God communicates with us, prayer is the way He has provided for us to communicate with Him. 

b.       It is a privilege that Christians enjoy – 1 John 5:14-15, 1 John 1:9, Hebrews 4:16 – we come boldly before the throne of grace…

c.        Continually the Bible emphasizes our need to pray – Luke 18:5-10 – the parable of the friend at midnight.
Ephesians 6:18, praying always with all prayer and supplication?  1 Thess. 5:17 – pray without ceasing. 

d.       A study of the life of Jesus shows the importance of prayer.  Luke 5:16 – He often withdrew in the wilderness and prayed!  WE find Jesus praying in the morning and at evening.  Because He prayed often, His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray.  He did!  THOUGHT:  If Jesus, the son of God, Immanuel, needed to pray as He did, what does that say about us mere mortals?

e.       How often do I pray?  Do I begin my day with prayer?  Do I pray at night?  Do I pray before meals?  What about in public (not as a show), but because it is who you are?   What and who do I pray for?
Do I believe God answers prayers? (cf. James 1:5-6) When I am facing problems do I turn to God in prayer?

f.         Year ago I learned, “Seven days without prayer makes on weak!”
How important prayer is to you, is very much a spiritual indicator.

 IV.                 How Important is the Church to Me?

a.       The church is an institution created by God.  Ephesians 3:10-11 describes the church as being a part of God’s eternal purpose (before the foundations of the world).   Acts 20:28 tells us that church was purchased with the blood of Jesus.    Universally, it is the body of the saved – Acts 2:47.
Locally, it is a body of the saved in a given location who have joined together to do the work God has given her – worshipping God, promoting the gospel, building up its saints and relieving one another as we have opportunity.

b.       Our responsibility is to keep her pure!  Ephesians 5:25-27 describes how Christ died to sanctify and cleanse her and to present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, that she should be holy and without blemish.  Paul rebuked the Corinthians for tainting the purity of that congregation (1 Cor. 5:6-7).   Churches in Revelation 2 & 3 were rebuked for corrupting the teaching of God’s word and their behavior.

c.        We NEED the church!  When we understand what she it that becomes obvious.
In fact, she ought to priority in our lives.  

d.       So how important is she to you?  If Christ is our priority, we ought to give His church prominence in our lives.  Am I willing to join a congregation of His people and to help build her up?   (Ephesians 4:16)
Will I be an asset to her or a hindrance by my conduct?    
How is my attendance – Hebrews 10:25? Do I seek to be here as often as possible, or do I seek excuses to not “have to go to church”?  
Do I contribute to the work?  (1 Cor. 16:1-2, 2 Cor. 9:6-7) Does it reflect that she is a priority to me?  Do I give cheerfully and as I have prospered?

Do I participate in the worship wholeheartedly?  Is there grace in my heart when you sing (Col. 3:16)?  Do I listen attentively and search the scriptures with the lessons?  Do I participate when something needs to be done?  Do I defend her before others?  Do I practice discipline to keep her pure?

e.       In summary, if everyone were like me, what would happen to this church?

 V.                   How Important are my Brethren to Me?

a.       Related to previous point, but it goes further.  The Bible describes us as a family – with God as our Father and we as brethren.  We are also described as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27) with every part functioning properly and working together with the rest of the body.   This can only happen if our brethren are important to us.   

b.       Much of the New Testament is directed toward governing our conduct within the church; even more so, our conduct toward each other at all times.  In fact, the expression “one another” is found more than 50 times in the epistles (Romans – 3 John) dictating how are to treat each other as brethren.

c.        So how important are my brethren to me?  Do I prefer associating with them over my worldly friends?  Am I living in such a way as to build them up spiritually? Am I willing to sacrifice to help my brethren in need?  Do I know my spiritual family well enough that I can tell when something is wrong?  Do I act in such a way that my brothers and sisters in Christ want to be with me?

d.       We are living in troubling times.  Now more than ever, we need each other!  For the one who says, “I’m fine by myself”, GREAT!  But if you are that strong spiritually, realize that you are exactly what the rest of us need!  BE there for us!

 VI.                 Do I control my tongue? 

a.       James 3:1-12 gives us a description of the power of the tongue.  Though it is a small member, it can do great things, for good or harm.   That is why it is important that we learn to control the tongue.
In fact, if you are struggling with self-control issues, a good place to begin conquering your problems is with your conversations.  That is what James said in verse 2, “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.  It is because of this that the tongue is a spiritual indicator.
The Bible has so much say about the tongue both good and bad!   Proverbs 10:19 tells us, “in the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.

b.       We have heard it said, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me.”  While the idea is for us to determine we are not going to let what others say to or about us hurt us, the truth is – words hurt!  Words do great damage!  And in this electronic age, there is hardly anything that we can say that might not be heard by others!

c.        So how well do I manage my tongue?  Do I find myself speaking before I think?  Do I struggle with anger and speak words in anger?   Does my language blaspheme the name of God?  Am I guilty of gossip? 
ON the other hand, do I use my tongue for good?  Do I encourage my brethren and friends?  Do I defend my Lord and My God?  Do I warn those in danger, both physically and spiritually?

d.       Do I THINK before I speak (Is it True, Is it Helpful, Is it Inspiring, Is it Necessary, Is it Kind)?

 VII.               How much do I care about others? 

a.       As you study the life a Christian in your Bible, you will discover that it is NOT just about you.   The scriptures have so much to say about how we are to react to each other.  In Bellflower, we are engaged in a yearlong study of how we relate to others.   It is reflected in our attitudes as well as our example in every aspect of our life.  We are called upon to serve others (Galatians 5:13).
Phil. 2:3-4, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.   In Matthew 5:44-48 Jesus told us that we are even to love our enemies! 
Some 7 times in the New Testament we are told to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
While we are be careful in considering what we do and where we go, we cannot live in a commune and fulfill all the passages of scripture that tell us to shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Philippians 2:14-15).  As Jesus said, we are not OF the word, but we are IN the world (cf. John 17:15-17).

b.       So, as our final point, we notice that the way we care about others is also a spiritual indicator. 

Do I genuinely care about my neighbor?  When I associate with my friends and loved ones, am I concerned about their spiritual wellbeing?   Am I willing to help them, even to the point of sacrificing – whether it be my money or my time?  Am I being a good example to those around me?

c.        The world we are living in desperately needs godly examples.  If we are to turn our society around, it is not going to happen with legislation.  It is going to happen by us letting our lights shine and by seeking to reach others, one neighbor at a time.

 

These are some spiritual indicators with which we can gauge where we are in relation to where we ought to be.  If our examination shows a need for change, then we need to repent and get to work changing it.  A doctor can tell you what is wrong and give you the cure, but if you don’t follow his instructions, you are not going to get better.  Through the word of God, the GREAT PHYSICIAN has examined us and tells us what we need to change.  Are we willing to listen to Him and obey Him (Matthew 28:19-20)?  Our eternity depends on it!