The longest recorded sermon Jesus gave - the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in Matthew 5, 6 and 7. And the longest single sermon Paul gave - as recorded in Romans 6, 7 and 8. This fall in our Sunday night meetings in the UW-L Student Union JC's Village is going to cover these two sermons. Jesus' sermon of course - is His longest teaching on how as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven we can live. Paul's sermon, is one of his most complete discussions of just how salvation and grace changes everything. The whole testament teaches both of these - but so much of the entire New Testament's teachings on these two crucial topics is crammed into the chapters that cover these two sermons - that the better we can under stand just these few chapters - the more we can understand the big picture. Our discussions on these invaluable chapters - some of the most quoted and most familiar passages in all the Bible - focus on practically understanding what it really means for our lives that Jesus said what He said - and that Paul preached what He preached. These two sermons are barely longer than the Constitution of the United States - and yet though they were first spoken to so few - they've had a far wider impact on the entire world.
Here are 7 ways to really grow and strengthen your faith this year
- Group up. If you haven’t joined a campus ministry or fellowship group on campus – do it. The staff who run these groups are dedicated people who have devoted their lives to ministering students. Being a part of a group like this will teach you more about living out your faith in less time than anyone could learn on their own.
- Bible up. Read it as many times as you like. Start studying your favorite parts. Allow yourself to get curious about the other parts. Hungry for still more - then go ahead and study it with all sorts of great tools: concordances, maps, culturally and historically relevant information, meditate on it. Still hungry for even more? Ooooh! Look at your bad self! Go ahead and memorize the bits that speak to you deeply.
- Pray up. The strongest Christians have long viewed prayer as the "breath of a Christian." Prayer is the most natural thing in the world - until it gets complicated by lots of "shoulds" and "coulds". We work hard in JC's to demystify prayer make prayer a refuge and meeting place between our busy daily lives and our loving Father in heaven.
- Align. This is the shortest way I can think to say “learn to do the Godly things that Godly people do the way Godly people do them.” Besides reading your Bible and developing your prayer life, – be baptized, pray to receive the Holy Spirit, practice the spiritual disciplines, invest your time and talents on behalf of the group that feeds you. Model your life after your spiritual heros in Scripture, in history and around you in real life.
- Be authentic. Commit to being authentic about your ups and downs, your lessons and your trials, your strengths and your weaknesses along the way. Christians are fond of saying “walk your talk” … I think it’d actually work much better if we all just talked our walk. Be honest. Be real. There is great power in a real, honest, authentic walk.
- Become a "Let-it-Go-Pro". Strategically hang on to what will help you - and that's it. Letting go is trickier for some at first than for others - but the more you practice it - the easier it becomes - and the easier it will be to really enjoy the things you hang on to.
- Stay humble. Even if someone were to “get” this whole list – they would find that a truly mature faith encompasses so much more than these self-evident basics. However much we learn – there is still more available. Faith in Jesus is worthy of our life-long pursuit - there are no "masters" of lists like this - only those who are more aware through experience of just how blessed by Grace they really are.
- BONUS! Have some fun along the way ... sometime Jesus tossed His posse into a boat and went fishing ... because they liked boats, and fishing, and relaxing.