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I trust much can be gained by living a life of discipline. It gives us liberation from fear and self- interest and shows us the way into real joy. Also, it guides the way to mature Christian spirituality, having Jesus as the eternal focus in our lives. We need to realize that we live in grace  and by grace, and not by works. God gets all the glory, for He is the one who motivates us to do  anything good. I have experienced, in at least a small measure, the freedom that comes with  recognizing the value of a disciplined life.  From a disciplined schedule of physical exercise and  family time to regular devotional time with God, it has been my experience that gain and growth  comes from a life lived in regulation.

Although there is no program or classroom course that can guarantee to give us this new life in Christ, it can be argued that in order to live a life like Jesus we need to do the things that Jesus did. If Jesus had to "learn obedience through the things which he suffered" (Hebrew 5:8 KJV), we should learn that walking with Jesus doesn't mean just knowing things about Him; it means living as He lived. This includes practicing the spiritual disciplines that Jesus practiced. As we do, we will be changed through the Spirit to be more like Him and experience the rest that He has offered to us.

Scriptural study is a very forming discipline.  Because Bible is God’s truth revealed to humankind, I strongly feel that we have a need to become familiar with it: familiar with its content, with the Spirit who directed it, and with the truth behind it. There is no shortcut for gaining familiarity with scripture. It does not come by talking or thinking about study. It comes, from actually disciplining ourselves to study God’s Word.  Study and meditation of scripture can give our faith the ingredients needed to grow and deepen. Showing forth mercy toward others allows us to understand more clearly the mercy shown toward us.

Prayer has a spiritually strengthening effect on every aspect of our personality. Prayer is the primary way that God chooses to change us into His likeness, in prayer, God revels to us the hiding places we have from him and He graciously frees us from them. John Wesley said, ‘God does nothing but in answer to prayer’. We should ‘precede, enfolds and follow’ everything we do with prayer.’ Prayer causes our love for others to increase. Jesus himself teaches us that prayer is useful for avoiding temptation when He says; ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation’ (Mt. 26:41).

Fasting is the most powerful spiritual discipline of all the Christian disciplines. Through fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit can transform our lives. Fasting can surely prove humiliating for us, as so much of our peace is dependent on the joy of eating. It can reveal to us how we use food to distract us from our own unwise behavior and sinful attitudes, feeling of self-worth or meaninglessness. It affirms our dependence on God, and the fact that in him we can find a source of sustenance beyond food. Through fasting we can truly learn that it is not just food that gives us life but ‘every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Mt 4:4). 

Meditation is not a foreign concept in the Bible, though for many Christians these days it is primarily associated with eastern religions. However, meditation is mentioned over 50 times in the Old Testament. Meditation is all about sustained attention. The aim of Christian meditation is not simply to empty one’s mind, but also to fill it with thoughts of God and His Word. Meditation on Scripture can bring new revelation in our lives.


To worship is to ascribe great worth to God and to see him as worth. Worship is a response of our heart to the love of God, which encompasses our whole lives. The actual meanings of worship is far more than just singing, praising and praying. When we worship we contemplate and express the glorious radiance, goodness and greatness of God through various expressions. John 4:23, describes that God is actively seeking those who will worship the Father in spirit and truth. 


Paul tells Timothy to 'train yourself to be godly' (1 Tim. 4:7). In 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, he speaks about going into strict training, and even beating one's body to make it one's slave. As any great athlete knows, training certainly involves a substantial amount of effort! Paul calls us to follow his example as he follows Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). By themselves spiritual disciplines will achieve very little; they only put us in a place where God's grace can change us. While we are self-reliant and other-reliant for our personal and spiritual formation, we are totally God-reliant for our spiritual transformation. We should take up the promises offered to us through a life guided by spiritual disciplines. Disciplines of prayer, meditation, fasting, worship and study of Scripture have often been thought of as indispensable to the journey of faith. Many of the spiritual disciplines help us to deal with these sins head on, as the purpose of spiritual disciplines is the transformation of one’s entire person.

 

Blessings!

 

Pastor Mark
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