New Hope Notes
Fixing Our Devotion
Faith Fixer Uppers
Pastor Wayne Cordeiro, Pastor Aaron Cordeiro
PASTOR WAYNE: Let me expose a myth. Just because people say that they are Christians, it doesn’t really mean they have a genuine or vital relationship with God because the outer doesn’t always equal the inner. Sure, we can go through the motions. We can go to church, take our kids to Sunday school, give in the offering, but right after church, we default to our old ways.
Today, I want to talk to you about what it means to have a living relationship with Jesus Christ, and when you fall away from that target, how do you restore that relationship of closeness? We’re going to be talking about that, and it will have something for every single one of us.
God wants us not to just have faith but a vibrant faith. It delights Him when we have a daily ongoing and genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Remember, God doesn’t need you and me to make the world go around. He’s not demanding performance. He can do anything, yet He delights when His children have a good relationship with Him and carry out His will.
In the busyness of daily life, we forget about our relationship with God. We can mistake our activity in church for closeness with Him. We trade ministry for holiness or activity for nearness. Both will result in dissatisfaction and sometimes resentment.
God created us with a need for Him, and without Him, nothing is satisfying. Life itself becomes something without purpose. It’s listless. If you’re not near to God, you might come to church but you’ll not be satisfied. You can hear sermon after sermon but it won’t fill your soul. You may be rich, but you won’t be satisfied or nourished from it. You can have all the goods in the world, but nothing will satisfy you.
The Bible says, “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge.” (Psalms 73:28) What this passage is saying is that no matter what our occupation or position might be, our satisfaction in life comes from our closeness with God. Being close to God is the bull’s-eye, and every concentric circle away from Him is distance away called sin.
It’s not action that concerns God as much as consequences of that action. The Bible says the wages or results of sin is death. There are two kinds of death. Once is the cessation of life, the other definition is a separation from life. If God is life, then sin separates us from that life. If we keep going that way, it leads to death or a total separation from what God’s design originally was.
Sin is an archer’s word. It is when the arrow goes outside of the bull’s-eye. Every concentric circle is actually called a sin—one sin, two sin, three sin.
So that word is the same as the Bible uses when we miss the bull’s-eye or we’re not coming up to God’s best. It distances us from God’s creation and design. If we normalize that it’s okay to be outside, we live according to our own devices.
With a healthy conscience, when we shoot and miss the bull’s-eye, we can see it and make some corrections according to our bow and our sights. If you feel that distance from God, make the corrections so you’ll hit the bull’s-eye every time.
Our future depends on our faith. Have a sure foundation, not just an outward resemblance of that. There are certain hallmarks that we can use to evaluate whether or not our faith is vibrant. There are three questions you should ask yourself:
Why? Because instilled within each of us is a beautiful self-adjusting mechanism called a healthy conscience that develops inside of you, and it begins to correct and adjust along the way. Now if you don’t develop this or if it’s an unhealthy conscience, you can go the wrong way without even knowing it, or you can be okay and always feel guilty. To develop a healthy conscience is knowing God’s Word, reading His Word, and knowing His heart. The more you know that, the more it will help adjust your life.
God is saying that if you have a relationship with Him, you’ll begin to sense what He is saying and when He’s displeased, you’ll make that adjustment or correction. It’s that self-adjusting mechanism.
If you don’t have a vibrant relationship with Him, then a healthy conscience is not going to be part of your life. You have to develop that. It comes when you’re close to Him. If you don’t have a healthy conscience, you’ll just keep going until you hit the wall, and then you’re broken, things are messed up, and there’s a lot of cleanup to do.
A healthy conscience helps you to maintain a healthy relationship with God. When you have an ongoing relationship with Him, there will naturally be an outflow or outpouring of God into you. It will also go through you into others including relationships that are close to you, not only physically but will help you even when relationships are broken. It will give you direction to make it right.
When you have a good or close relationship with God, it doesn’t make you to be free of pain. I wish it did. You’ll still have pain. It will be a different kind of pain. It will be pain that’s more compassion over brokenness. The pain will be there because you’ll sense that things aren’t right and there will be a prophetic sense that you’ll know before it hits the wall. God will give you the wisdom to make it right.
A close relationship, healthy conscience, the wisdom to live, are like an internal GPS. For those who have an iPhone, you are acquainted with Siri. It can be very useful when it comes to navigating directions. If you’ve got a wrong point of reference, your whole direction will be off.
I remember inputting “Lancaster”, but there’s actually a Lancaster in several states and it pulled up the wrong state. It was only about an hour away but it said 1995 miles away. You must have the right reference point, a closeness to God that develops a healthy conscience and give you guidance and direction.
That’s what the Bible is. The Bible gives you that point of reference. The more time you spend with God and you download His heart and know where you are in relationship to Him, everything starts to get balanced. He’s telling you by His spirit when we are going off track and how to get back on so that we can continue in our destination. Like a GPS, our desired destination will be where He wants our hearts to be and it will start to match up.
When I develop a genuine relationship with the Lord, my heart tends to lean toward putting things right that are broken. You just want things to come back together again. When you have a vibrant relationship with God, it’s painful to tolerate unresolved broken relationships, and that’s exactly what God wants us to sense.
When my relationship with God is good, I find that I’m more eager to resolve fractured relationships in my life with my family, with others around me. If my vertical is off, I can’t even sense when things are off. That’s the first gauge. Do you have a self-adjusting mechanism or a healthy conscience? That only comes when you’re close to God. Through it comes the wisdom that God wants us to have.
The New Testament gives us a great example of commitment from the Apostle Paul’s life. When everything was taken away from Paul and he had nothing left, he still had his commitment. I’m sure Paul had his doubts. From prison, he would write some of the New Testament words and passages that change lives to this day. Paul was eventually asked to deny his faith and when he wouldn’t, he was beheaded.
A great definition of commitment is staying true to a worthy decision long after the emotion of that decision has passed. We often think of commitment as marriage and family but it includes our relationship to God as well. So let me ask you: What have you committed yourself to? I’m not talking bout good intentions about our relationship with God, but what have you committed yourself to that is unshakable? List them down.
There’s a difference between good intentions and commitments. You can say, “I will love you, God, with all my heart. Whatever you say, God, I’ll do. Wherever you lead me, Lord, I’ll go. I’ll devotions every day. Lord, I want to hear your Word every morning. “ We have great intentions , but we’re not perfect. It’s easy to make future commitments but when they’re tested, we fail, and the first thing we throw away are those commitments we should keep.
Can I encourage you to write down your top four or five commitments? In our walk with God, it is so important for our accountability and encourages us to stay the course, to take action, and to make sure those foundations are unshakeable.
PASTOR AARON: The third point is another question:
What do commitments look like? We want to talk about things that really matter, not just temporary things but things that last forever, - eternal things.
Number one would be faith. Another would be marriage. Faith, marriage, kids, relationships with your children, disciplines, your health, and friendships. It’s the things only you can do and no one else in the world can do for you.
How do you know when you need to tend to these primary areas in your life? It is usually when there is a lot of pain in that area.
Wherever there is a heaviness of God, the Bible says it’s like the righteousness of God comes into the room, and whenever there’s sin or any separation from God, you feel it. You can define it as something that feels painful or if you are suffering through something. It may be that God is putting a finger on an area of your life.
Sometimes when it happens, instead of facing or moving towards that area, we run away from it. We will talk through a few practical ways to fix our devotion, maybe God will tighten up the bolts of our commitment.
Why was Paul so committed? He was beaten. He was in prison. He was shipwrecked, falsely accused, and left for dead. Yet he wrote more than half of the New Testament. He would share the gospel with people in prison, and prison guards got saved. Their families got saved. All this, he did under persecution. Yet he was committed even to death where he gave his life for Christ.
Acts 20:24 gives light to his commitment: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”
Paul wasn’t always so committed. At one point, he led a religious group called Zealots. He was very legalistic, religious to the point of prosecuting, imprisoning and killing people. In his mind and heart, he believed he was right yet he was so wrong.
While Paul was on the way to Damascus on one of his Christian headhunting expeditions, Jesus in his resurrected form met Paul and transformed his life forever. Paul realized such a contrast of life and death. What seemed so negative in Paul’s life through God’s grace was able to turn the toughest moments into something positive or godly. God can do the same in our lives if we are willing to strengthen our commitment.
2 Timothy 4:7-8: “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me to me on that day—and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
If we increase our longing for God or the tenacity to be close to Him, the Bible says that not just our devotion returns but our commitment. We can choose to obey or disobey. We can choose to make an excuse or begin to accomplish all that God has for us. What God will ask is commitments to what is eternal, righteous and the truth. If we are willing, our lives, our world and our whole future will be different. It’s not living or leading our lives by feeling or emotion, but it is by truth.
Whatever you’re struggling with—maybe your relationship with God - you feel like He’s not showing up and you’re wondering where God is. Maybe it’s your marriage, your kids or finances. It’s a fight.
In the end, it is our commitments that define our character. It’s going to define who we are.
COMMITMENT: Staying true to a worthy decision long after the emotion of making that decision has passed.
Paul, who went through a tough life, was on top of the world and the bottom. Going through the things he did, he said that it was rubbish compared to attaining the resurrection that he could have in Jesus Christ.
TWO PRIMARY COMMITMENTS:
1. Our commitment to Relationships. 2 Timothy 4:9-11 (NIV) says, “Do your best to come to me quickly … Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.
You might be at a place where you’re fighting or it’s tough to hang on. Can I encourage you? Hang onto relationships. Hold on to your relationship with God. In the end, it will define you.