Going Deeper

Scripture: Hebrews 5:12-14, Mark 4:3-34, John 17:1-26
Date: 09/14/2013 
Do you want to have a stronger, deeper relationship with God and have peace in your life?
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

I think if I could ask each of us if there’s something that they could pray for, in particular regarding the relationship with the Lord, a lot of people would say something in the line of, “I believe in Jesus, I believe in the Bible, I believe in God, and the Lord is coming back, but I wish I had a deeper experience with God. I know the Lord, but sometimes it seems like I’m struggling just to maintain that relationship. I feel like my faith is weak. I’d like to know the Lord better. I’d like to have more peace. I just wish that things could be stronger. I wish my relationship was deeper with God.” That’s really the essence of what I want to talk to you about this morning. How can we have a deeper relationship with God? We’re going to talk about how to go deeper with the Lord.

A few years ago, there was a terrible building disaster in South Korea. In 1995, they had what they call the Sampoong Department Store Disaster. You have to get a little history to understand the scope of this. In 1988-1989, they began to build this massive apartment complex, and so it was designed for that. But then there were some financial problems along the way, and an investor came through, and he said, “Now let’s build some department stores. We’ll build a mall.” And the engineers said, “The original design (this is a landfill) wasn’t designed to sustain the extra weight of the stores that would be involved in this four-story mall that you’re wanting to build,” and they said, “We can do it.” They protested. The engineers said to the owner, “We can’t do that. We have to reinforce it. The ground is soft.” He fired them; hired his own engineering company and his own contractors, and he pushed ahead, and they built this four-story mall.

Then he decided, “I could make more money if I add another floor.” And the engineers said, “You really shouldn’t be doing that because it’s not engineered for that, and we have this landfill, and we didn’t go deep enough with the foundations, and in order to do that, you’re going to have to take out some of the piers that hold up the edifice for the escalators.” They protested, and so he fired them, and he hired some others that would take the money and go along with his desires. Then they built the escalators. They took out the piers, added another floor, put restaurants on top. “We’re going to put in a skating rink.” Put these very heavy air conditioners up on the roof.

Then they noticed in 1995 one day, June 28, that some cracks were appearing upstairs. When that was brought to their attention, they said, “The ground shifts in these buildings periodically, and don’t make too much of a deal.” The next day the cracks got even bigger, so much so, that a lot of the executives left the building, but they didn’t announce for the people to leave the building. Finally, when the cracks opened up so much that they began to announce that there was a problem, it was too late. They had 20 seconds, and the building collapsed. There were 1500 people in the mall at the time. They were afraid they were going to lose business if they told everyone to leave before the end of the working day. Five hundred people died. It was the largest peacetime loss of life in South Korea.

Among other things in the investigation, they found out that it was a poorly-laid foundation, built on a landfill. They had not gone deep enough. You have to dig deep. We need to have a deep relationship with the Lord. It cannot be superficial. We are going to be challenged by all kinds of trials that will come. You need to have a faith that will be sustained when you go through persecution. You need to have a faith that will be sustained when you go through trials. You might experience terrible loss. You might have great health problems. You might have some tremendous financial reverse.

Talk about trials, look at what Job went through. But Job’s relationship with the Lord was so deep that no matter what came, he said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” He knew who he believed in, like Paul said, “I know in whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him against that day.” Do you have that kind of deep faith in the Lord? Or are you just kind of bobbing around on the surface? The Bible is pretty clear we need to have a faith that will sustain us.

There are three or four areas where I’d like to talk to you about having a deeper relationship with the Lord, and you could sum them up by saying in knowledge we need to go deeper, in action we need to go deeper, in faith we need to go deeper, and in relationship we need to go deeper.

Let’s talk for a minute about having a deeper knowledge in the things of God. Do not be offended by what I’m about to say, because I’m reading the Bible. Take it out with Paul. Take your protests up with the apostle. Hebrews 5:12. He was writing to the church back in his day, and I expect it’s not a lot different today. People haven’t changed much. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again.” So what is the purpose for us? When we come to Jesus and we learn the truth, is it so we can just fold our hands and say, “It’s wonderful to be saved,” or does the Lord want us to learn so that we can communicate to others? “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God.” Do we understand enough about our faith that we can share it with others? How long have you been going to church? How long have you known the message? Do you spend time in the Word? We need to be able to tell others what we believe. 1 Peter 3:15, we ought to “always be ready to give [an answer] to everyone who asks [us] a reason for the hope” or the faith “that is in [us], with meekness and fear.” We ought to be ready, and yet we need someone to tell us what we believe. There are basics where we ought to be able to defend our faith, and yet, in many respects, we’re still like 101 Christians. We need to go deeper in our knowledge.

He said, “You need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” It’s like we’re nursing babies. “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” So what’s one of the ways that we go from babes to adults in the Word? “By reason of use.” If you’re reading your Bible, if you’re praying, if you’re studying, share what you have, and it gets stronger. If you have muscles you never exercise, they’re going to atrophy. If you’re reading the Bible and you’re not sharing what you’re learning with other people, you will not keep it. You only remember what you give away. The best way for you to remember the Word is not just by reciting it over and over, though that might help. It’s by sharing it with others. The thing that has helped me the most in memorizing Scripture and truth is people talking to me and me talking to people, being challenged and having to defend, that really seals the truth in your mind. Communicate it to others.

Here’s another verse. 1 Corinthians 3:1, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it.” A newborn baby is born and you just barely get them cleaned up and they’re crying a little bit, so Mom says, “They’re hungry! I think maybe we should give them a bag of walnuts” or “give them a big piece of”—I’m not saying “meat.” You’re not going to hear me say that. Because there are people—it just really makes me sad when they give their little baby Gerber pureed ham. They have it, yes! Blended peas are bad enough, but the ham! I know when Rachel was a baby, you’re so excited, you want to do everything. As soon as they start crying, you think the way to get them to stop crying is put something there in the mouth, and you start feeding them too soon, and what they need is milk. But if all they’re taking is Pablum and milk, and they’re five years old, you have a problem. And if people are coming to church and you have to keep giving them milk all the time…

There are a lot of times that I’d like to really get deep in the Word and talk about some of the stuff that has grist in it, but I can tell I’m shooting over peoples’ heads, knowing some of the saints, that they’re not spending time on their own in the Bible. If the pastor is going to go deep with you in the Word of God, you need to have your own studies so you’ll say, “I know what he’s talking about.” It’s a challenge sometimes when you’re doing evangelism because you want to share things that will reach the babes in the Word, because everybody has to be a babe at some point. Nothing wrong with that, but you don’t want to stay that your whole time. Then you want to be able to share something that is going to challenge the thinking, that’s going to go deeper with people who are mature Christians. The way to get to be a mature Christian is to be feeding your own soul.

“For until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” Jesus tells us about needing deeper roots for a plant. Parable, you know it, the parable of the four different soils where the sower was sowing seed, Mark 4:5, “Some [seed] fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up.” But “because it had no depth…” Had no what? The roots didn’t go deep enough. “It had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away.”

The reason that oaks are able to survive on mountains where the wind howls is because an oak tree, in particular, by the time that acorn sprouts and it starts to show itself, it has already sent down a root three times as deep as the plant is going high. We have squirrels all around our backyard, and squirrels like to bury acorns, and I’m always going around pulling up oaks. It’s one thing to pull up these little weeds. The roots go down, and unfortunately, I don’t know why, some cosmic joke, but the flowers pull up easily, don’t they? Kids in the neighborhood think they’re pretty, and they’ll go pull them up and give them to their friends. The whole plant comes up. But with oaks, I’m there, and there’s a little oak leaf. I said, “Oh, there’s another one. That squirrel!” And I’ll go pull it up. The root’s that long! And that’s why they live for hundreds of years and they can withstand storms, because they put down deep roots. They don’t blow over. The top might break, but it’ll come back. If we’re going to survive the storm, we need roots also, roots in the Word of God.

God planted the children of Israel in good soil with deep roots. Listen. Psalm 80:8, 9, “You have brought a vine out of Egypt; You have cast out the nations, and planted it. You prepared room for it, and caused it to take deep root.” What kind of root did God want His nation to have? Deep root. What kind of roots does He want you to have? Deep root. Has He given us what we need for that in His Word? So, friends, I’d like to encourage you, when it comes to knowledge in the Word of God, let’s go a little deeper. Let’s get away from the baby food and start digging into the Word of God. It’ll strengthen your faith.

God wants us to think deeper thoughts. Psalm 92:5, “O Lord, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are very deep.” That says it, doesn’t it? Can you imagine God inviting us to think thoughts with Him? “Lord, how’s the weather up there?” If you’re going to talk to the Lord, say something more important than that, right? Job 12:22, “He uncovers deep things out of darkness, and brings the shadow of death to light.” God will talk to you about the deep things. Isaiah 55:9. The Lord appeals to us. He wants to talk to us about things that really matter. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Yet He invites us, “Come now; let us reason together.” What a privilege that we could reason with God! So if you have an opportunity to think and talk with God, what are you going to talk about? Weather? You want to talk about the stuff that really matters.

I remember I was required when I was a kid to write my mom from summer camp. The counselor said, “Today, write postcard to your parents.” They knew that the parents wouldn’t send them back if they never heard from them again, and so you had to write your parents a couple times a week, and they’d make us go to our cabins. We had to write these cards, and my card always said, “Dear Mom, How are you? I am fine. Love, Doug.” Any of you ever get one of those letters? But they want to know what you are doing, right? They want more information. How many of you, when you get a letter from your kids to college or at camp, and they just say, “Dear Mom, Dear Dad, I’m fine. How are you? Send money.” It’s usually how it looks, right? Isn’t that how it usually goes? When they need money they can become more eloquent sometimes. But if you love your child, and if they love you, you’re hoping that there will be a little deeper communication.

Maybe we should go a little deeper with God. Are our prayers shallow? Is it full of small talk? He wants to hear from us. If you’re going to have a deeper relationship with God, then talk to Him. Tell Him what’s going on. “But Doug, doesn’t He already know everything?” Yes. “Why bother praying? He knows everything.” He wants you to pray. Did Jesus pray? Have you read the prayers? You think, “I don’t know quite how to do it.” Look at some samples. You have some templates in the Bible. Look at John chapter 17. That’s a deep prayer. You read the prayer of Jesus. Look at the prayer of Daniel, Daniel chapter 9. Read the prayer of Solomon in 1 Kings chapter 8. Those are some profound prayers, and there are many others that you can read. The prayers of Jeremiah—they wax eloquent with God. Use those as a template.

Deep cleaning. When you come to the Lord, typically you ask for forgiveness of your sin, and when you think about forgiveness of your sin, it’s sort of a broad, general term, and we think about the Ten Commandments. “Lord, help me not to kill anybody or steal anything or use Your name and curse in vain,” and go through the superficial idea of obeying God, and ask for forgiveness. But as you get deeper in your relationship with the Lord, you realize that sin is not just an action. Sin is an attitude. Jesus said it’s not just committing adultery, it’s thinking impure thoughts. It’s not just killing someone, it’s thinking murderous or angry thoughts. It’s not just lying, it’s being a little deceptive with your yea and your nay, and we need sometimes a more thorough act of repentance. We’re very shallow and superficial, especially in the evangelical world. You come forward, repeat this prayer that takes 15 seconds, and now you have been forgiven of your sins. That might be a starting point, but if you’re going to be a mature Christian, you need to know what it means to be serious about calling sin sin, repenting of your sins, and being specific. “Oh, but the little sins, Doug?” Deep cleaning. There is no such thing as little sin. All those sins put Jesus on the cross. Amen? We need to go a little deeper with the cleaning.

Deep fishing. Remember the story where Jesus got into one of the disciples’ boats. Luke 5:3, “Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.” After he got done teaching, He said, “It’s one thing to sit and listen to Me teach. What are you going to do about it?” After He gets done teaching, He says, “Now let’s do some working.” So we sit in church. We listen. Is that the end of it? Or do we learn to work? Then He said, “Launch out into the deep.” I’ve been teaching; now I want you to launch out in the deep “and let down your nets for a catch.” Of course that’s a symbol for what? Follow Me and I’ll make you a fisher of men. They said, “[Lord], we have toiled all night,” Peter said, “and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” Where did He tell them to go? “Launch out into the deep.” Why don’t you say that with me? “Launch out into the deep.” How long have you been at the shore as a Christian? You’re afraid of the deep water; might not know how to swim. You’re not going to learn to swim in the shallow water. There’s risk in the deep. That’s right. You know how millionaires get to be millionaires? They take a calculated risk. If you want to have a deep experience with God, you need to launch out. If you want to catch the big fish, you don’t catch them in shallow water.

A few years ago, I think I told you, our family—Karen and I and all the boys including Daniel are certified scuba divers, and one of the greatest experiences of our life was a couple years ago in Belize. We snorkeled around the reefs. We saw a lot of beautiful things, and they said, “Would you like to go out and swim with the whale sharks?” The word shark makes you nervous, but they’re not actually sharks. Well, they are sharks, but they don’t eat people; they eat plankton. And we said, “Yes.” They said, “To do this, it’s open water. You’re not at a coral reef. You go out into the ocean,” and usually when I go snorkeling or scuba diving, you see the bottom. You swim around, you’re at the reefs, and you see all the little fish.

They tell you to jump out of the boat. You jump out of the boat, and it turns into a black abyss below you, and you look off in any direction, and there’s nothing, and all of a sudden you feel like you’re pretty small on the food chain. But they knew where to go, and they said, “They’re down there.” Someone up above said, “Yes, they saw them. The whale sharks are down there.” We didn’t see them right away, and then I looked off, and deep down in the blue shadows, I saw something moving, and I thought, “Am I seeing what I think I’m seeing? Is that a Russian submarine? What is that down there?” Then we heard the other divers. They take a piece of metal and they tap on their tanks, and you look at them and they point, and sure enough—whale sharks! But you couldn’t see it very well. We had to go down 80 feet. You realize if you have a problem with your mask or your air at 80 feet, you may not make it back to the top. There’s a risk, but we saw them. And then real sharks came by. Then we saw all these fish that were spawning, and the whale sharks were coming up through the spawning snappers, and they were eating the eggs, and there was this whole melee of giant fish and little fish that were down there, and it was just a wonderful, awesome thing to see. You’re never going to see it in the shallow water.

If you want to have a deep experience with God, you have to launch out into the deep. Some of you have been afraid all your life of taking any risk. Maybe you’re afraid to fish for men. “I like to share my faith, but I’ll knock on someone’s door and they’ll slam the door.” Maybe you need to launch out into the deep. “I’d like to give a Bible study, but I’m afraid that if I ask them, they’ll say no.” Ask someone else. Keep asking. Someone will say yes. You have to take a risk; launch out in the deep. But some people never grow because they don’t take an adventure. Would you like a deeper experience sharing your faith?

Finally, would you like a deeper relationship with the Lord? Where’s that going to come from? Seek and you’ll find. Ultimately, our Bible study, our praying, our witnessing—it’s all going to boil down to having a deeper faith, and that’s going to come from sitting at the feet of Jesus. The Bible tells us, Luke 10:38, “Now it happened as they … entered a certain village; [that] a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus … said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’” She wanted to sit at the feet of Jesus. Martha was busy, and who was Martha working for? She was working for Jesus. But Martha was missing out sitting at the feet of Jesus, having that relationship with the Lord. When Jesus rose from the dead, who did He first reveal Himself to? Peter, James, John? His own mother? Martha? Or was it the one who wanted to sit at His feet and drink in His word? And even though Mary had problems and seven devils were cast out of her, she stayed close to Jesus so that she had a deep experience with Christ. Is He worth it, friends? Is it worth it to seek that kind of relationship with the Lord?

I read in the Bible about people that had a deep relationship with Jesus, not only Mary sitting at His feet. You read in Daniel 9:23, Daniel had a relationship. He prayed like no one prayed. Do we agree with that? He’d pray even if it meant he’s going to a lion’s den; you couldn’t stop him from praying. He read his Bible. Daniel chapter 9, he’s quoting all over the Bible. It says that when he was praying, an angel was sent from heaven, and you know what that angel said? Daniel 9:23, “You are greatly beloved.” We hear you pray, Daniel, because we know that you love God. We love who God loves. We love the ones that love God.

Jesus had that relationship with one of the apostles. Which one? The Bible tells us that John is identified as the one whom Jesus loved. John 13:23 (it mentions it three times), “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” It’s almost like He loved him above the others. I know Jesus loved them all, and Jesus loves all of you, but there are some people… Siblings say, “You were Mom’s favorite.” “You were Dad’s favorite.” There probably is some favoritism among earthly parents. Did Isaac have a favorite? How about Rebecca? Even in the Bible, did they sometimes play favorites? Are there some that the Lord especially loves? I think so. It’s those who want to have a deep relationship with Him. We all want to be wanted. God wants to be wanted.

Do you want to have a deeper relationship with Him? Let’s take more time in His Word. Let’s take more time getting out where the deep water is, where we are catching fish. We need to ask God to help us get our roots down into the moisture of the ground so we can make it through the storm; get our foundations down in the rock of God’s truth. We need to be a people that aren’t just eating baby food all the time, but the meat, the grist, of God’s Word and have a real, mature relationship with Jesus. The Lord is looking for that kind of people. He needs that kind of people in the last days that are real Christians. I want to be one of them. I want to get into a deeper relationship with the Lord. How about you, friends?

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