In this final sermon in the Better Together series, John, Adam, and Todd help hash out how a genuine biblical community operates. In this segment, John Elmore discusses how we grow by staying plugged in to the source through our devotional life by walking with Jesus throughout out day.
How to Pursue Relationally
How Is Your Location: The Importance of the Health of Every Community Group
Devote Daily: Staying Connected to God
Why Regular Attenders Are Really Scoffers
The Path of Accountability
Diagnosing and Dealing with 3 Spiritual Cancers in your Community Group.
Welcome to Watermark, Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, those of you who are streaming online. Today we are going to be wrapping up the Better Together series with myself, Adam Tarnow, and Todd Wagner, so welcome.
Today I brought in this box. I have a love/hate relationship with what is inside of this box. I love it because I need what is in this box, and yet I hate what is in this box also because I need it. What might be inside, you wonder? This little beauty. This is my iPhone charger that I keep by my bed. This one is essential, because my phone dies daily to 0 percent. I have an old iPhone 5, so this is the one it's plugged into all night.
I don't just have that one. This is the one my wife requires me to keep in my car, because oftentimes when I'm out running errands my phone dies. I have both kids. She's like, "Where are you? I need you. You have to keep a charge on your phone." This one is crucial. See, normally by noon on any given workday I'm at like 29 percent. At noon. I know; it's insulting.
This is the small pocket-size one. You're like, "That's standard issue." No, this is the crucial one that I will take from meeting to meeting all throughout my day at Watermark. I actually choose seats based on where there is an outlet so I can remain plugged in. My in-laws for the last three Christmases have given me iPhone chargers, just in case you think I'm not serious. I got this one as a stocking stuffer this year, which is nice because it doesn't tangle, except for the fact that it didn't come with a plug. I'm like, "That's just a tease. Why would you do that?"
This one is a huge source of conflict in our lives, Laura and me, our home. This one stays in the kitchen. That's right. We have to have one in the kitchen, because one room is not enough. When I come home every day from work, she'll be plugged into this. I'll tap her home screen. I'm like, "Are you kidding me? 54 percent? That's selfish. Get off of there. I'm at 19!"
The reason I tell you about my iPhone woes is because this thing doesn't hold a charge, and it's a common pain. We all know it. In fact, there was a worship song that I think was in part inspired by this common pain of iPhone chargers. It's "I need you, oh I need you, every hour I need you." That's going to mess that up. The next time you sing it you're going to be thinking about your phone.
But I think that's a good thing that it will cause you to think about your phone, because all of us, as followers of Christ, require a spiritual charge, power from Jesus to us all throughout the day. We require it as Christ followers, that we're receiving our power from God. We don't have it in and of itself. We have to remain plugged into the source that is Christ.
I'm telling you about that today during Better Together because one of the core values (in fact, the first core value) of community here at Watermark that the elders have proposed is that it is to devote daily. As Christ followers, we must devote daily. You'll see out of the six values of community it is foremost, and it is there intentionally.
If we are not devoting daily, remaining in and abiding in Christ, we won't even be able to do the other five that are there, because it is from him, the source, that we are able to accomplish all that we are intended to do by the Lord. So today we're going to be talking about Devote Daily. That's one of the core values of community. We're going to cover the misconceptions, the reality, and the solution.
Let's talk about misconceptions first. Who here in the audience has a smartwatch? A smartwatch requires a frequent charge. Let me tell you about my watch. This bad boy right here was $13 on Amazon, shipping included, and it has a 10-year battery. This thing is going to run until 2027. That's what I call a smart watch. Thirteen dollars, 10-year battery. I don't know how they're making any money. The reality is that your watch is smarter than mine. This thing tells the time and can beep on the hour. Congratulations. Not a very smart watch.
Your smartwatch can do a ton of different stuff, which is why it demands a frequent charge. Now a lot of us think we have a lifetime charge like my watch. You think, "Well, I trusted Christ when I was 9 years old. I was baptized. I was sealed with the Spirit. My eternal salvation is fixed. Therefore, I'm just going about my business. I'm going to get my work done. I know how to manage relationships and money. I don't need to walk with God. He made me incredibly wise. I'm winsome. I'm likable. I can get life done."
You think that you somehow have a lifetime charge just because your eternity is fixed. It's not the case. None of us has a lifetime charge. You're much more like that smartwatch than you are my cheap watch. It's not just my words; it's Jesus' words. The elders have chosen John 15:5 to go along with the value of devote daily. Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
Jesus will remain in us if we have trusted in Christ, but we do not have a lifetime charge. We also have to remain in him in order to bear that fruit. Apart from him you can do nothing. You think, "Well, I can do things apart from Jesus." You maybe can, but they are not spiritual, eternal fruits that matter for the kingdom of God. For those you must remain in him. You don't have a lifetime charge.
The other misconception is that you have a limited charge that is sufficient. You think a limited charge in your day would be sufficient. This would be the equivalent of if I had my iPhone, which does die daily… Every day this thing will go to 0 percent, screen black, and I am totally rendered incapable of what I need to do in my marriage, my relationships, my work, my finances. It just shuts down, because a limited charge is insufficient.
If this thing was totally dead and I took one of these chargers and left it in there for 15 minutes, how long would this be good for? You know. It would maybe turn back on and go to 7 percent, and I would try to do my remaining functions on that 7 percent, and after that it wouldn't have any strength. It wouldn't have any power left anymore.
It's the same thing if we try to do our day based on the limited charge, thinking that a limited charge would be sufficient. This would be like having a quiet time, maybe a "Join the Journey," for 15 to 30 minutes, and then you think, "That's enough for the day," and you go about your day. At some point in time, God's power in you is going to run out. You're going to operate on God's power for a little bit, but unless you're charged throughout the day, getting these charges from God, it is going to be insufficient.
You can't just have a 15-minute quiet time and expect that to carry you through the day. That is a misconception. The other problem is a lot of times we're doing this, and then it's like we switch it onto "airplane mode." We have nothing outbound to God for the rest of the day, and we have nothing incoming from God. It's on airplane mode, because we think, "That quiet time was sufficient." They are good but just not sufficient.
So we have to leave our phones, get continual charges throughout the day, and not have it on airplane mode. Those are the misconceptions. What is the reality? The reality is that we have to give God precedence daily throughout the day. Not just in the morning or the evening but throughout the day. Precedence is a fancy word for priority and preference. Let me explain it to you this way.
The only other person I am in covenant relationship with aside from my Lord and Savior Jesus is Laura, my wife. She has precedence in my life, and because I'm in a covenant relationship with her, she has priority and preference, which means when I am at work and she calls, even if I'm in a meeting… Well, if she calls, I'll take the call if I can. If I'm in a meeting, I will immediately send her a text and be like, "Hey, sweetheart. I'm in a meeting. Do you need me to step out or is everything okay?" and 99 times out of 100 she's like, "Oh, it's great. I was just checking in."
There's also this frequent text lob throughout the day. It's not just one in the morning but continually throughout the day so that we stay in communication. There's usually a FaceTime with me and the kids and a couple of pics sent back and forth. There's this continual communication and conversation throughout the day. I'm staying in touch with her, not because I have some to-do list that says, "Call Laura in the morning. Call her in the afternoon. Text throughout the day."
It's not a to-do list. It's because I love her and I'm in a relationship with her. It's the same in our relationship with God. Those touch points are all throughout the day. In fact, just like if you checked my phone history and you would see an ongoing dialogue with Laura, it should be the case with all of us in our spiritual walk.
At the end of the day, you should be able to, in theory, click on "spiritual history" and see "Time in the Word. Worship song on the way to work. Engaged God in my work. There was prayer throughout here, prayer at the meals. Engaged God in a conversation with a coworker." There should be that spiritual log throughout, this conversation.
You can imagine. What if I said, "Hey, Laura, I'm only going to talk to you from 7:00 to 7:30 in the morning, and after that we're not going to talk anymore"? What would be the quality of my marriage? It would diminish pretty quickly. We would have a lot of confusion, even conflict. There would be separation there. We'd still be married, but there would be a breakdown in communication.
It's the same thing whenever we don't stay in that constant communication with the Lord. That's why Ephesians 5:18 says, "Be filled with the Spirit." We're sealed when we trust Christ, but there is a filling, which is ongoing, present tense, continuous, throughout the day, as we are being connected and charged all throughout the day.
Now if the misconceptions are that there is a lifetime and limited or insufficient, the reality is we're to give God precedence throughout the day, then how do we do that? That feels kind of intangible, so let's put some ideas toward that. Here's how we do this. The solution is to be connected to God's power all throughout the day. There are some simple ways that can be done.
The first is to be connected to God's power through P or prayer. We're told in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances…" That's not a cosmic to-do list from God. Instead he's saying, "I want you to stay in continual communication with me so that you can bear fruit. This is a love relationship, and you will draw your power to bear eternal fruit through that relationship with me." That's how we draw power: through prayer.
The next is W or worship. Whether it's a worship song in the morning… Maybe you turn off that talk radio, sports radio, and instead are filling your mind with spiritual truths put to music that will get stuck in your head, as Todd's Journey entry told us. Maybe that W for worship isn't a song but instead is your work, whether it's changing a diaper, overseeing and teaching junior high students in the classroom, or preparing taxes.
Your work can become worship all throughout the day just by bringing God into that, saying, "God, I need your wisdom. I need your power and your insight. I want this to be a sacrifice of worship to you as I do what you have given me to do today."
The last is R or reading, spending time in God's Word. We are told in Hebrews 4:12 that his Word is living and active, meaning that this will be a conversation from God through the Word to you as the Spirit can discern those thoughts through the Word into your mind. He will speak through his Word, and not only that, call them to remembrance.
Right now we're doing a six-week challenge to remember Psalm 1, to put it in our minds, that the Spirit would bring that back to our minds as we're going throughout the day. Reading and remembering. That is how we can remain connected to God's power. These power sources throughout the day: prayer, worship, and reading.
This past week I was out of town on our annual staff retreat in which we plan for the year, get some time away together to really refocus on the Lord and the goals. During that time, something strange happened. My wife back here in Dallas receives a text from an unknown number that says, "Hey, baby, how are you? What are you up to, sweetheart?" Yeah, his eyes just raised. Mine would have done the same thing, except that text was from me.
My phone had died yet again, so I had to reach over to my buddy beside me, and I'm like, "Bro, can I borrow your phone?" He's like, "Why?" I'm like, "My phone is dead. I have to text my wife." I was going to tell her, "Hey, I'm not going to be able to call you tonight. My phone is out of power."
I think that I'm not unique in that. My iPhone is not unique in that. I think a lot of us are running out of gas, out of energy, throughout the day because we are not staying connected to God's power and, thus, cannot do what we were created to do in loving God and loving others.
We have to remain connected, because if we are not individually healthy by devoting daily, then our Community Groups will not be healthy and our church will not be healthy. So I am asking you, we are asking you, your Community Group is asking you, and God is asking you to devote daily, that we would bear spiritual fruit and remain in him.