Spiritual Disciplines

Spiritual Disciplines
1 Timothy 4:7

But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; (1 Timothy 4:7 NASB, 1995)

What is a Spiritual Discipline?

   Don Whitney writes, “The spiritual disciplines are those practices found in Scripture that promote spiritual growth among believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are habits of devotion, habits of experiential Christianity that have been practiced by God’s people since biblical times.”

   Note: Disciplines are practices.
   The goal of Spiritual Disciplines: To be like Jesus Christ. So, then, what are some key Spiritual Disciples? Allow me to point out five for you. They are:

1.Prayer life (Conversation with God)

   Prayer is simply talking directly with your heavenly Father. It is a conversation with God. Scripture encourages us to pray. Below are three examples:

  • Luke 11:1 – Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”
  • Luke 18:1 - Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,
  • I Thess. 5:17 - pray without ceasing,

                                                                 ASK – SEEK – KNOCK

Matthew 7:7-11 -  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

  What are you praying about these days?

   Are you sensitive to the Holy Spirit about the things you need to be praying about?

   In Psalm we find David praying in the morning to start his day and ending his day in prayer before he goes to sleep. This is a good practice. Daniel the Prophet prayed three times a day – morning, noon, and night.

2.Bible Reading (Understanding Scripture)

  • II Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

  • Revelation 1:3 - Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
   Howard Hendricks provides ten steps for first-rate Bible reading:

1.Read Thoughtfully – put on your thinking cap.
2.Read Repeatedly – over and over again.
3.Read Patiently – the fruit of the Word takes time to ripen.
4.Read Selectively – ask the right questions – who, what, where, when, why, wherefore.
5.Read Prayerfully – key to having the Bible come alive.
6.Read imaginatively – use additional translations of the Bible.
7.Read Meditatively – reflect on Scripture.
8.Read Purposefully – the aim of the author.
9.Read Acquisitively – seek to retain it.
10.Read Telescopically – see the parts in light of the whole.

   Never stop reading the Bible. It is a NEW book each time you open it up. God speaks to you from Scripture, so, read His book to you. Compass for life. BIBLE - Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. It is His Love book with your name in it.

3.Fellowship with other Christians (Enjoying Family)

   Acts 2:40-47 - And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

   What do we have in this passage of Scripture?

  • Salvation – v. 40
  • Baptism - v. 41
  • Church growth – v. 41
  • Discipleship – v. 42
  • Signs and wonders (ministry) – v. 43
  • All things in Common – v. 44-45
  • Worship, and meals – v. 46
  • Praise, and continued growth – v. 47

  All the distinctive actions above are elements of fellowship for the people of God. Do these things in a church and you will have a dynamic fellowship.

4.Attending a Bible preaching Church (Connected as a Body)

•Hebrews 10:25 - not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

   How important is a local Bible-preaching church? Go back and look at:

  • Acts 2:42 -  And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

   Consider what Paul encouraged young Pastor Timothy with,

  • II Timothy 3:16-17 - All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Note: Always connect with a church that believes that the Bible is God’s Word from Genesis to Revelation. Fully inspired and inerrant in the original manuscripts.

  • Doctrine – how to get on the track.
  • Reproof – how we have gotten off the track.
  • Correction – how we are to get back on track,
  • Instruction – how to move down the track.

   God’s people should WANT sound Bible teaching.

5.Sharing your faith with others (Evangelism)

   Are you exempt from sharing the gospel with others? Who will be in heaven because you took the time to talk with them about a relationship with Jesus Christ? The Bible teaches:

•Matthew 28:18-20 - And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

  • Acts 1:8 - But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

  • 1 Peter 3:15 - But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

   How did you become a Christian? A parent shared the gospel with you. Attended a church service and was saved. Television or radio program. Crusade. Vacation Bible school. A friend shared the message of Jesus Christ with you.

Are you a growing Christian? Are the Spiritual Disciplines evident in your Christian life? Which one/s do you practice consistently, and which one/s do you need to begin to practice a bit more?

   It’s all about becoming more like Jesus!

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