Fruitful Living (3 of 5): “Intentional Faith Development” (3/23/14)

Posted by on Mar 23, 2014 in Sermons, Worship & Prayer | 0 comments

The sermon on Sunday March 23 introduced practice #3 of our five part series on the “Five Practices of Fruitful Living”    During this season of Lent, we are following the companion devotional guide by Robert Schanase entitled in “Forty Days of Fruitful Living.” The sermons introduce the week’s topic, and we discuss and study these topics during our small group meetings that  week.

Intentional Faith Development

This week’s  “practice of  fruitful  living” is entitled “Intentional Faith Development.”

Pastor Larry’s scripture passage was Ephesians 3:14-21.       

In Jerusalem, archeologists have uncovered the ruins of steps which used to ascend to the Temple Mount.  Pilgrims seeking to fulfill a once in a lifetime chance to worship at the Temple had to end their long journey by climbing these steps.  Psalms 120-134 (“Psalms of Ascents”) speak to the pilgrim’s anticipation as they made the long and dangerous journey from their homes to the Temple.  These Psalms are full of anticipation, joy, praise, and awe.  But when they reached the end of their journey, they had to endure a long climb up a long difficult set of stairs.

Temple Mount Steps

Temple Mount Steps

 These stairs weren’t the type of stairs we’re used to.  Today’s rough appearance of these stairs can’t be attributed simply to their age; they were built to be difficult to climb.  The varying rise between each step was intended.  Some steps were only a few inches above the previous one.  Others were several feet.  Ascending these steps took effort.  You couldn’t go on “autopilot” and bound up them as if you were walking up to your front porch.  You had to be careful and deliberate with each step.


Eph 3:14-19…

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. NIV

 To grasp the “full measure of God’s love” takes effort.  We have to be deliberate.  Just as in the careful attention needed to climb these steps, we need to be deliberate in our day by day step by step living in order to grow from each step.  To climb the Temple Mount steps we need to use our eyes and look down at each step to ensure that our feet are securely positioned.

But climbing in this life takes faith.  We need to be “strengthened with power through His Spirit in our inner being.”  Some of the steps may be short and easy.  But some may be high and difficult and cause us to stumble or struggle.  And in doing so we bow before the Father.

Elton Trueblood wrote…

“Faith isn’t belief without proof.   Faith is trust without knowledge”

Climbing the steps in faith means that we must pause at each step and ask ourselves questions like the following:

  • Do I learn something from every step?  God is in each step and He constantly offers something for us to learn from each experience.
  • What will God teach me?  How will God use me?  What will God show me?
  • Am I depending on God for each step or am I on “autopilot”?
  • What do I expect when I reach the top of the steps?  Am I seeking God’s riches (verse 18)?  Or am I really looking for my fame, wealth,  or comfort?

Our goal isn’t a life of ease.  A life where we drift from day to day.  Our goal is to “grasp the fullness of God’s love.”  Not only to walk in faith, but to grow from faith.  Our goal is to experience the truth of God as expressed by Paul in the closing verses of this chapter…


Eph 3:18-4:1…

Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know — far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

Click Here to learn more about this sermon series.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *