We began a new series at Gateway Church in Austin.
Listen to my message at Gateway South here:
Discuss ways to apply the message here:
Next Steps for your life group or family dinner.
Notes from John’s message are here:
There’s a deeper experience of life that God intends us to live. All it takes is to keep spiritually breathing—just stay connected to God, who is your Spiritual Life-line in a Spiritually Hostile world.
“The time has come,” [Jesus] said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” – Mark 1:15
Jesus taught about God’s Invisible Kingdom that He was making available, free of charge, to all who would simply “Repent.” To “repent” means “to turn from going our own way and turn back to God, and believe. T0 put your trust in God’s instructions on how to live in His World. This is Good News! It’s something you want to experience! So many people think it’s Bad News—“You’d better repent, God’s out to get you.” That wasn’t Jesus’ message!
Dallas Willard wrote about how at the turn of the century, electricity was just being made available to rural towns. Before that people had to do everything without the aid of the power of electricity—wash clothes by hand, hand pump water, heat water on a fire, a hard life. But ironically, even after Electricity’s Time had come and the power lines were available—many rural communities continued to live their old way—without the aid of Power. And so people from the Electric Companies had to come to town basically saying, “Repent—Turn from your old ways, the Power of Electricity is Near—believe the Good News—You can tap into a Whole New Way of Living.”
Jesus’ message was “There’s a Spiritual Life that’s available to all of us as we learn to Do Life Moment by Moment with God. That’s what we’re practicing for 60 days, using the Soul Rev 60:60 app to remind us every 60 minutes to stay connected to God who loves us and is with us to help us. The more connected we stay, the more we begin to experience A Power that brings peace even in the storms, a power that gives self-control even when we’re angry, a Power to resist temptation, a Power to love even those difficult-to-love people. And the ability to experience Joy in the moments of a day because we start to see Life from a whole new perspective.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. – Eph. 2:4-5
All that God has done through Jesus was to bring us back into Relationship with God—Making it possible for us to Stay Connected to the Spiritual Oxygen God gives to live His Life Below the Surface of life. So it’s really simple—When you tell God you want what Christ did to count for you—He forgives for every transgression, every turning away, every wrong—and it gives Him permission to Do Life with US. He needs our permission, we need His forgiveness.
Jesus promises His Spirit in John 16:
“You grieve because of what I’ve told you. But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate [Holy Spirit] won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment…When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” – John 16:7-13
Every person who has trusted in Christ to forgive their sins has God’s Spirit with them always:
And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit.” – Ephesians 1:13
God says he’s there with us, he will never leave—His Spiritual Oxygen is available all the time free of charge (free refills), so that we can live life with God in His World.
I need to warn you about things that often go wrong and cut off Oxygen.
We Forget to Spiritually Breathe
You know what I see tons of Christ-Followers doing? It’s like they put on Scuba Tank when they open their heart to Christ. God gives us His Spirit to Do Life with Us, but he doesn’t breathe for us. They stick the scuba regulator in their mouths—then forget to breathe, or they try to breathe through their nose! They’ve gotten so used to the old way of Breathing—of responding to situations without pausing to ask God “what’s your will, give me power to respond your way”—they forget to breathe through the Snorkel.
In Galatians 5 Paul reminds us—we don’t have to try real hard to heal from this sin-disease, we just keep breathing and God heals us and grows us:
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves…19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness…22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. – Galatians 5:16-22
When you try to change yourself, heal yourself, without staying connected to God’s Spirit, it’s like trying to live under water but forgetting to breathe. Just Breathe moment by moment letting the Holy Spirit guide you, and Scripture promises the sinful things will start to fall off (God will heal you of them because you’ll start to see they just keep you from the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control naturally start to grow in you.
We Knock Out the Regulator
This is the next problem that people often run into when they decide to Do Life with God. They’re swimming along, and they do something foolish that jolts the regulator out of their mouths—and though they could just calmly put it back in and keep breathing—they panic and turn away from God, don’t get the Oxygen they need—and down they go.
“Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God….” – Isaiah 59:1-2
We have a wrong understanding of this word Sin. We often think of things we like to do that we’re not supposed to do—just because God says so, there’s no really good reason, He just wants to ruin our fun. Subtly, that’s what we think. But actually, Sin is just Going Our Own Way instead of God’s Way. Not Believing the Good News that God’s Ways in God’s World is Better. Sin is Doing Life Apart from God rather than Doing Life with God, God’s Way.
When we choose this, it’s like knocking the snorkel out of our mouths. God’s still there, the Spirit’s Oxygen’s still flowing. He hasn’t cut us off, but we’re not getting Spiritual Air because we’ve told God “No, My Way”.
Let me just say, most all the pain and suffering and hurt and evil of this world is a caused by Going Our Way rather than God’s way—and honestly thinking God’s Wrong and We’re Right, but not seeing the consequences clearly—it always hurts us and those around us, and those who come after us. How many of us have known the right thing, but done something else thinking it would be better, only to find out later it was a trap?
I meet so many people who are angry and upset with God because they don’t experience the Joy or Peace He promises—but when Life Squeezes, moment by moment, they keep Going Their Old Way instead of God’s Way. They keep knocking the Snorkel out and wondering why God’s Not Keeping them From Turning Blue! Put the Snorkel Back in! Just Breathe! Scripture tells us how to deal with this Sin Problem.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess [admit] our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – I John 1:9
Truth is, we all Go our own way, all the time—this is our problem. We live life mostly apart from God, mostly on our own without a thought given to God’s will or ways during the twists and turns of our days. But God is incredibly forgiving because He’s already paid the highest price to cover every debt you can rack up against Him. See, it’s not about swearing to be a perfect person—you can’t. It’s not about promising God you’ll never do wrong again—you will. Does He want you to sin, NO. Should you try to sin? NO. But the whole Point is that We need God’s Oxygen to Spiritually Live and grow up spiritually.
So you’re doing Life and you realize in the moment, “I’m not doing what God wants.” Or you realize, “What I just did was wrong.” Look at what He says—Just Admit it. Don’t pridefully deny that you just knocked the Snorkel out. Don’t start saying, “I don’t need that Oxygen anyway.” That’s foolishness, don’t deceive yourself. Don’t believe the lie “God’s given up on you—you’re uniquely too bad, he’s removed his Spirit from you. NO—He promised He’d never leave. The Tank’s there, the Oxygen’s flowing–Just do the Arm Sweep [God I screwed up—I’m sorry, I admit it—help me grow from it] and put it back in and Keep Breathing [Holy spirit help me just stay better connected, and help me do the next right thing].
You move forward, you fail forward.