The following content is based on the message “New City Church Vision 2012: Dependence on Christ” spoken on 01/29/12 by Steve Wright at New City Church in Phoenix, AZ.
The following is not meant to be a full synopsis of the message but rather a brief look at the main concepts. For more context and understanding, please visit http://newcityphx.com/media and listen to the message in its entirety.
Understanding your Calling
Q: Think back to your childhood. What did you dream of becoming when you grew up? Did you pursue that dream? Why or why not?
Q: What are you most passionate about? What gives you the greatest pleasure in life?
Q: What has God gifted you at? What are your greatest abilities?
When you combine your dreams/passions with your abilities, you can get a clearer understanding of how God has shaped you to accomplish His will. You might refer to this as your “calling”.
Q: What do you believe God has called you to?
Q: Are you following that call? Why or why not?
But understanding your calling is just the first step…as you embark on the journey towards following the call there is animportant question that you need to ask yourself.
Who are you becoming?
We can make lists all day long of who we want to be, but those lists don’t always mean that’s who we’re becoming. The process of becoming like Christ is the ultimate goal of discipleship (our corporate calling) and this is accomplished on the journey…
Genesis 12:1-3 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Abram received a very specific call from God and he obeyed the call by leaving the comfort of his land and going to Canaan. The first step is obedience to God’s call. But Abrams journey wasn’t a straight shot to Canaan.
Genesis 11:31-32. Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there. The days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah died in Haran.
God didn’t call Abram to Haran but that is where they settled. As we follow the call of God, there will be times when we settle.
Q: Is there an area in your life where you’ve settled?
Q: We settle for a number of different reasons: comfort, fear of failure, self-rejection, physical obstacles, unforeseen circumstances, etc. If you have settled, do you know why?
Throughout the journey there will be obstacles that come our way. These may be self-induced (e.g. destructive behavior) or God-induced (e.g. Gen 22, sacrifice of Isaac). Whether we bring them on or God does, they both provide us with opportunities to become better reflections of Christ.
Q: What obstacle(s) are you are currently facing?
Q: Was this brought on by you or do you think God placed this obstacle in your path?
Growth through dependence
The process of growth can be illustrated like this…
Healthy things Grow
Growing things Change
Change raises our tension/anxiety
Anxiety demands a response
Our response exposes our Perspective
The Hebrew word for Faith is rooted in the words “Tension” and “Anxiety”. Tension rods were used to hold up tents the Israelites set up while in the desert. Similarly, times of tension in our life actually enable Faith to hold us up. See how this changes the illustration above if we use different language:
Healthy believers are always Growing
Growing believers will constantly Change
Change enables Faith
Faith demands our response: trust or mistrust
Our response exposes our perspective: Independence or Dependence
Q: Which part of the growth process is the most difficult for you?
The process of growth is not easy and will often times lead to mourning. We mourn the lack of faith that is exposed. We mourn the idols we must dismantle that have taken our eyes of God. We mourn the pain change causes in our life. Mourning is inevitable.
Ecclesiastes 7:2-4. It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
It’s safe to bet that we would all choose a wedding over a funeral. But Solomon says that it is through the times of mourning in our life that real change is able to take place.
Q: When was the last time that you were in mourning? What did you learn through that experience?
God wants us to become men and women who are completely dependent on Him and He will often use obstacles to get our attention and draw us into a place of dependence.
Read Proverbs 30:7-9 and Matthew 6:11 and think about everything from your daily needs to your salvation.
Q: Are you dependent on God for all of your needs?
Q: In what areas are you too comfortable or independent?
The ultimate goal is to become more and more like Christ and the way that happens is through refinement. God purges things from your life so you reflect Jesus more clearly to the world. This is only accomplished through our dependence on God and the work of His Spirit. May your journey be filled with growth & mourning so that in the end you come out a better reflection of Jesus. Amen!