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Adopting Spiritual Disciplines

Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way.

1 Timothy 4:7-8

Watch Week Five: Choose Discipline

Even though the summer Olympics occur every four years, athletes train nonstop in the years between. Think of the rigorous training they undergo, the discipline they have to continually develop and exhibit. There are so many other things they could be doing instead of training: eating junk food, playing video games, lounging around the house. No doubt the temptation to indulge in all of those things is great. But these athletes know that the discipline of training will allow them to compete at the Olympics and possibly take home a medal.

When we place our faith in Christ, we trust that his work on the cross saves us from the penalty of our sins. That is the beginning of our salvation story. But what happens after those first stages of salvation? How do we continually respond to Jesus after we place our faith in him? Many times, we think that we have to show our faith for God in big, monumental acts. However, as is his way, God calls us to respond to him through small, daily acts of faith. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we abandon those habits that draw us away from Jesus and we embrace those that fuel our growth in him. This week, we will discuss our action plan for spiritual growth: adopting spiritual disciplines.

A spiritual discipline is a habit or practice that we participate in to generate spiritual growth in our lives. The Holy Spirit changes our hearts, but these disciplines help us to focus on God and listen to the Holy Spirit.

The most common spiritual disciplines include:

  • Fasting (This can be a temporary abstinence from food, television, spending, etc.)
  • Rest (Sabbath)
  • Prayer
  • Meditation (Study of the Scriptures)
  • Confession
  • Solitude
  • Simplicity
  • Fellowship
  • Service

Our spiritual training is much more important than athletic training because it possesses eternal value (1 Timothy 4:8). We practice these disciplines, or habits, to expose our weaknesses and build our strength in those areas of frailty. Although spiritual growth should be taken serious- ly, we should remember that our journey in Christ is not about punishing ourselves or being sad that we can no longer indulge in our former habits. Spiritual discipline focuses on what we gain, not on what we lose. We gain Jesus, and that is everything.

When we love God, we are eager to obey him. As John writes, his commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). In fact, his commandments should bring joy to our hearts (Psalm 19:8). The deeper we grow in our relationship with Christ, the more we will desire to look like him. And we begin to look more like him through the practice of the disciplines.

Train Yourself for Godliness

Paul’s instructions are clear: make time for spiritual growth. This can be challenging for us with our fast- paced lifestyles and busy schedules. Perhaps that means that we wake up earlier or even eliminate something from our schedule. It’s worth it, even if we don’t always see the tangible value. When we continually show up—to pray, to study, to fast—and when we invest deeply, we grow closer to God.

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Daily Question

Are you finding that life is too busy to effectively incorporate spiritual disciplines in your life? How do you think you can alter your schedule to make room for them?

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Comments (11)

Going to bed earlier can be hard, but when I do I can get up early for DEVOS. It make such a difference in my day when I start it early with God.

I do allow my life to get too "busy" and distract me. I used to listen to Christian music every day on my commute, and now I’ve find myself listening to other music. One very simple fix is to use my commute to be silent and pray or worship. I liked how the pastor prays before leaving work and before going into the house.

. I do not find life too busy to incorporate spiritual disciplines in my life, now. This wasn’t always the case, for a very long time. I studied the disciplines at Calvin University spring semester. Before this I was just not informed in how to participate fully. ‘Unusual’ you might say being brought up in the church itself but some people, just like myself, might not take spiritual disciplines serious. I now try to participate regularly though I do procrastinate, occasionally. "Just do it" as they say. It pays off in realizing the blessings we have from God that are granted abundantly if we just obey.

Yes. Busyness is a problem. While I may be doing things that are needed they often do not have value from an eternal standpoint. I plan to make time to reflect on lies versus truth using the IF LEAD tools sent last week to get me started on better habits.

When my children were younger, living at home, this was so me…too busy. I wish I had found studies like these sooner. I am just learning to have spiritual discipline even now. Learning through Bible studies, and IF:Lead and Gathering and If:Tables creates an excitement that I just want to be a sponge, take it all in, and keep learning. So scheduling my time is easier every day. And hearing that there will be a time when I’m stuck in a study, but keep going, that is important too. LIke a marriage, just keeping going, the excitement will continue to ebb and flow. I love that message.

I find I want more. My struggle is to find that uninterrupted time. I crave extended times with God, 2 hours would be a blessing. I need to get that when I can, but also find ways to weave it into my overall day. Setting notes around to remind me of what is important. Maybe a prayer book or devotional on the porch or a reminder on my phone. Then get the extended study at planned deliberate times. Half a day away, ect. I find without the “going to the coffee shop” it is a bit harder, but I trust God will meet me where I am.

I do a pretty good job of waking up early to spend time with God. But here lately with the COVID and the school are remote learning I had to adjust my work schedule to be home with my kids one day a week to help them with there school work. It has been hard because I have not spent time with God as I should be. I feel it!!! I need to look at my time and get up even earlier to spend time with God.

Life isn’t too busy. My problem is letting distractions creep in and steal my time. Since Covid, I’ve struggled to find a new rhythm for my days. At first, I was in denial and thought Covid would just be an extended Spring break. Now, I have accepted that life is different. I’ve been praying and asking God to show me how to plan my days and use my time well. Over the weekend, God showed me a new plan. I’m getting up earlier to do my stretches (bad back) and spend quiet time with him before everyone else gets up. I’m practicing the pause a couple of times during the day and my husband and I are reading the Bible out loud together in the evening.

COVID has given me the gift of slowing down and spending more time being present and being in God’s word. Before stay-at-home orders I lived in a constant hurry. I had morning quiet time but I was a zombie and just went through the motions. I was so stressed out with the hurry and exhausted I didn’t leave space to discern and listen to God.

One of my biggest prayers right now when we transition to a post COVID word is for God to help me maintain the presence and peace of slower and more intentional days.

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