Icebreaker: Have you made any changes to start or to increase the spiritual discipline that we talked about last week? The question remains - Do you think that someone who trains a lot has more chance to win than someone who does not?
Text: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Last week we talked about the importance of training in our spiritual lives, and the first 4 spiritual disciplines we talked about were: 1 -Prayer, 2 -Fasting, 3 -Rest and 4 – Confession and accountability.
Today we continue exploring 5 more spiritual disciplines.
1) Reading the Scriptures
People want the truth, and I believe they're searching for it. As Christians, we believe that truth originates from God alone. God's Word is the revelation of the truth, and Jesus is the physical manifestation of it, being the ‘Word made flesh’. But we cannot know the truth if we don't know how to spend time in the Word and with Jesus; small doses of it, spoon-fed in short readings, once a week on a Sunday morning, are not enough.
"If you are relying on a preacher to be fed, I fear for you. Listening to a sermon is second-hand knowledge. It is learning based on someone else's words or experiences. A sermon is no replacement for first-hand knowledge. You've got to see it and hear it and experience it for yourself. It's not enough to hear the truth. You have to own it. Or more accurately, it has to own you. Honestly, I'd rather have people hear one word from the Lord than a thousand of my sermons. And that happens when you open your Bible and start reading." Mark Batterson
What can you do to grow in this area? How can you develop the spiritual discipline of being in the Word more often and more deeply?
2) Solitude and meditation
In a conversation with God, while heading to the promised land, Moses declared that if God’s presence did not go with them, they would refuse to leave (Exodus 33:15). Moses asked, “What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
What else would distinguish them from the nations around them? How about circumcision for a start? How about food restrictions? How about the Sabbath and yearly festivals? How about a list of ethical commandments that would play a defining role in human society for the next 3,500 years? Yet despite these other distinguishing marks, Moses knew that the presence of God was the thing that truly set the people of God apart from the nations around them. The other distinctions were simply the social, cultural, and religious boundaries that any community could display. But God’s presence? That was unmistakable.
What about us, do we desire God’s presence to the point where nothing else matters?
What steps could you take in order to grow in this area? How can you develop the spiritual discipline of resting in God, focused on Him and becoming increasingly aware of His presence?
A few weeks ago I saw an online conference called ‘Renew’. A Pastor from ‘First Baptist Church’ in Orlando, Florida, shared his testimony. He had discovered that he was suffering from heart failure and a brain tumour, with the news about both conditions coming on the same day. But he shared how, in the middle of this storm, he had become more aware of the power of worship, which had blessed and transformed the situation.
Worship is all about the attitude of the heart. True worship is motivated by who God is and not what He does (especially if He’s not doing what I want, when I want). When we worship, we must humble ourselves and surrender every part of our life, so that we can truly appreciate the Lord and get to know more about who He is. Worship is an integral part of a Christian’s life. It’s about knowing God; knowing His attributes, and His character. Even if your singing is bad, you can worship deeply, because it is not related to the talent you may have for singing, but to the attitude of your heart!!!
How can you grow in worshipping God today? How can you develop the spiritual discipline of worshipping faithfully, regardless of whether in your life you are experiencing the valley or the mountain-top, or indeed any place between those two extremes?
4) Fellowship and Spiritual friendship
God’s desire was not to have a domain to dominate, but to have a people to partner with. In His vision of tangible presence, Christ has chosen to manifest himself through us.
God is relationship and HE designed humans to be in relationship (yes, even those who think that they don’t need that).
People may prefer to go through life alone for several reasons—time is valuable, relationships take work, chemistry is challenging, and autonomy is easier. Some just don’t find a friend, a spiritual Christian to share time together with, because that costs and requires proactivity. Others just seem to feel that they have been made differently, almost like no one will understand them or like them. I certainly felt like that most of my life. But the truth is that God doesn’t want us to be alone and lonely, so we need to be proactive and seek for friendship with other Christians.
How can you develop the spiritual discipline of building trust and developing the fellowship- relationship that you have with someone? Can you make the first step? Can you invite someone for a coffee this week? What can you do to grow in this area?
Christians who are accelerating their spiritual growth are involved in personal ministry. Personal ministry includes things like leading a cell group, an Advance group, mentoring other Christians, teaching a class, organizing a mission trip experience, serving on the leadership of a non-profit organization, or a church, or conducting a study in a workplace environment. I get excited when our people do this because it means that they are moving from being a disciple to discipling others. They are finding unique ways to use their gifts, passions, and talents for kingdom benefits. It means that they have passed the ‘baby phase’ of crying for “milk” and have started to feed others. This is when movement and further growth happens.
Service is giving more than just money, it is to honour God with our time and life.
Can you see an opportunity that God is giving you to serve? Can you see how God is encouraging you to develop the spiritual discipline of service? What is God putting in your heart about this – if the answer to that is “I don’t know”, then come to God in prayer and ask Him to show you.
Conclusion: It is time to start training to get ready for greater things! Would you like to start tonight? What are the first steps (or next steps) that you can take in this direction? Let’s pray.