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                         "BACK TO THE BASICS!"


INTRODUCTION

1. A disturbing trend seen too often in many churches is the apparent
   apathy of many Christians
   a. They may attend services, but it appears that they are only
      "going through the motions"
   b. Their singing, their praying, their Bible Study, their zeal,
      seems listless
   c. To rephrase Thoreau:  "The mass of [Christians] lead lives of
      quiet desperation."
   -- CERTAINLY GOD DESIRES MORE FOR HIS CHILDREN! - cf. Ro 15:13

2. I suspect the problem is one akin to an athlete or a sport team
   which is "in a slump"
   a. Such a person or team "goes through the motions", but they are
      not performing up to their true potential
   b. The solution in sports:  Work on "the fundamentals"

3. The same is true with Christians; when we find ourselves "in a 
   slump"...
   a. We need to stress the fundamentals - cf. Re 2:4-5
   b. We need to get "Back To The Basics!"

[In this lesson I would like to stress some of the "fundamentals" or
"basics" that we need to get back to whenever our lives are in a 
spiritual slump.  I.e., my first suggestion would be to...]

I. ENERGIZE YOUR "FAITH"

   A. DEFINING "FAITH"...
      1. A Scriptural definition of faith is found in He 11:1
      2. The NIV is helpful:  "Now faith is being sure of what we hope
         for and certain of what we do not see."
      3. VINE'S describes faith as "a firm conviction"
      4. I like to think of faith as "confident trust"

   B. IMPORTANCE OF "FAITH"...
      1. Faith in God is essential to pleasing Him - He 11:6
      2. Faith in Jesus is essential to finding forgiveness and eternal
         life - Jn 8:24; 20:30-31
      3. Without faith, the only alternative is doubt accompanied with
         fear - cf. Mt 14:30-31

   C. ENERGIZING YOUR "FAITH"...
      1. The Word of God is designed to produce faith - cf. Ro 10:17;
         Jn 20:30-31
      2. Through diligent reading of the Bible, we can "energize" our
         faith!

[So when you find yourself in a spiritual slump, pick up your Bible and
allow it to rebuild that "confident trust" you once had!  It will also
help you to...]

II. FORTIFY YOUR "HOPE"

   A. DEFINING "HOPE"...
      1. VINE'S says that it involves "the happy anticipation of good"
      2. It is NOT wishful thinking, or an insecure "I hope so"
      3. But as VINE'S describes it further, it is "a confident
         expectation"
      4. A common definition of hope is "desire plus expectation"

   B. IMPORTANCE OF "HOPE"...
      1. Hope is necessary to persevere - Ro 8:25; 1Th 1:3
      2. Hope is necessary for our motivation to become pure - 1Jn 3:
         2-3
      3. Hope is necessary to increase opportunities to evangelize 
         - 1Pe 3:15
      4. Without hope, we not only lose our souls, we won't be any good
         for saving others!

   C. FORTIFYING YOUR "HOPE"...
      1. The Word of God was written to produce hope - Ro 15:4
         a. Through its revelation of God's dealings with man in the 
            past, we know God keeps His promises
         b. This encourages us to expect Him to deliver on His promises
            for the future
      2. Peter encourages us to "rest your hope fully upon the grace 
         that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus 
         Christ" - 1Pe 1:13
         a. Where do read of the "grace" that is to come when Christ is
            revealed?
         b. In the Scriptures, of course!
         c. Nothing "fortifies" our hope better than those wonderful 
            passages that reveal the eternal destiny of the saints!

[When an athlete gets discouraged, he or she is often told to "keep 
your eye on the prize!"  So the Christian must do, and it is with the
aid of God's Word that we can keep our focus where it ought to be.

Getting "Back To The Basics" will also include an effort to...]

III. ACTIVATE YOUR "LOVE"

   A. DEFINING "LOVE"...
      1. Paul gives the best definition of love - 1Co 13:4-8a
      2. A simple definition that is easy to remember: "active 
         goodwill"

   B. IMPORTANCE OF "LOVE"...
      1. Expressing love gives us "assurance" of our salvation - cf.
         1Jn 3:14,18-19
      2. Expressing love assures us that God will answer our prayers - 
         1Jn 3:22-23
      3. Expressing love reassures us that we abide in God, and He in 
         us - 1Jn 4:7-8,12,16

   C. ACTIVATING YOUR "LOVE"...
      1. Like the Thessalonians, we can be taught by God how to love
         - cf. 1Th 4:9
         a. Jesus taught us how to love by His sacrificial life - 1Jn 
            3:16
         b. God taught us how to love by giving His Son as a 
            propitiation for sins - 1Jn 4:9-11
      2. Through careful meditation upon what the Bible reveals about 
         God's love for us, we can "activate" our love for others!

[As we continue to list what is involved in getting "Back To The 
Basics", I also encourage you to...]

IV. ENHANCE YOUR "JOY"

   A. DEFINING "JOY"...
      1. The Greek word is CHARA, and is closely related to the word 
         CHARIS
         a. CHARIS (grace) is "undeserved favor" which in turn gives 
            joy, pleasure, delight
         b. CHARA (joy), then, is the response we have to undeserved 
            favor
      2. I like to think of joy as the "delightful response" to the 
         grace we receive from God

   B. IMPORTANCE OF "JOY"...
      1. Joy is an essential element of what constitutes the Kingdom of
         God - Ro 14:17
      2. Joy lightens the burden of trials in this life - 1Pe 1:6-9;
         He 10:32-34
      3. It is often the loss of this virtue that is most evident in 
         the lives of many Christians!

   C. ENHANCING YOUR "JOY"...
      1. Both Jesus and His apostles gave us words whereby our joy
         might be full - Jn 15:11; 1Jn 1:4
         a. Once again we see the value of daily Bible study
         b. Just as the Bible can...
            1) Energize your faith
            2) Fortify your hope
            3) Activate your love
            ...so it can "enhance" your joy!
      2. Jesus also stressed the importance of PRAYER in regards to joy
         - Jn 16:24
         a. Answered prayer certainly excites the Christian, and 
            increases joy!
         b. So to the practice of daily Bible study, a key to getting 
            "Back To The Basics!" is the habit of regular prayer

[There is one more "basic" I would like to point out before we conclude
this study.  You should also...]

V. ENJOY YOUR "PEACE"

   A. DEFINING "PEACE"...
      1. VINE'S describes peace as "harmonious relations"
      2. It is used to describe such harmony between...
         a. Men
         b. Nations
         c. God and man
         d. One's own self
      3. A lack of peace often contributes to the "spiritual doldrums"
         that afflict many Christians

   B. IMPORTANCE OF "PEACE"...
      1. Another crucial element constituting the Kingdom of God - Ro 
         14:17-19
      2. Peace with brethren contributes to receiving peace from peace
         from God - 2Co 13:11
      3. And having peace with God has a positive effect in our peace
         with our enemies - Pr 16:7

   C. ENJOYING YOUR "PEACE"...
      1. Peace with God begins with justification found only in Christ
         - Ro 5:1
      2. It continues in response to fervent prayer - cf. Php 4:6-7
         a. Just as prayer can "enhance" our joy
         b. So can prayer help us to "enjoy" our peace that surpasses 
            all understanding!

CONCLUSION

1. Faith, hope, love, joy, peace:  simple words, yet so essential to 
   the "abundant life" Jesus has  to offer those who come to Him

2. Why are they often in short supply in the lives of many Christians?
   a. Because they neglect two fundamental tools God provides for them
   b. These tools?  The Word of God and prayer!

3. Brethren, whenever you find yourself in a spiritual "slump", let
   these two avenues of communication with God be the key to:
   a. Energize your faith!
   b. Fortify your hope!
   c. Activate your love!
   d. Enhance your joy!
   e. Enjoy your peace!

4. Restoring the basic elements of the abundant life found only in
   Christ is not a mystery:
   a. Receive the implanted Word of God! - Jm 1:21
   b. Continue earnestly in prayer! - Col 4:2

It's just that simple!
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