Sunday, August 8, 2010

Spiritual Disciplines

Discipleship Series (3)

1. “Spiritual formation” - Origin of the Term
19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you! ~Gal 4:19-20 (NIV)

Spiritual Formation is the process in which the practice of a standard set of disciplines leads to the formation of Christ-like character. There is set of non-negotiable habits that are required and expected of every disciple.

2. The Importance of Spiritual Formation

(1) It requires “strict” discipline
25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. ~1 Cor 9:25-27 (NLT)

Paul liked to use the athletic metaphor. Godliness or Christ-likeliness is like the goal at the end of the race. The only route to this goal is through the necessary training or discipline.

(2) It takes labor and struggle
28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29 To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. ~Col 1:28-29 (NIV)

Anything that is worthwhile is difficult at first. To be successful in anything worthwhile takes discipline.

(3) It takes Perseverance
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. … 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” ~Gal 6:7-9 (NIV)

A man reaps what he sows. If we keep at practicing the disciplines we will grow up to become more like Jesus Christ. We must guard against an easy Christianity that only seeks to get its needs met. Eugene Peterson, a well-known Christian author says, “Shun all spirituality that does not require commitment.”

3. The ‘Spiritual Disciplines” - What are they?

(1) Disciplines that Deal with our relationship with God
2 Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. ~Rom 12:2 (NLT)

a. You must be disciplined to read the Bible
16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” ~2 Tim 3:16-17 (NLT)

b. You must be disciplined to pray
16 “Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” ~1 Thess 5:16-18 (NLT)

(2) Disciplines that deal with denial of the flesh
“Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” ~Luke 9:23-24 (NIV)

16 “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” ~Gal 5:16-18 (NIV)

(3) Disciplines that deal with serving Christ and His Church

a. Living in willing subjection to spiritual authority
17 “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” ~Heb 13:17 (NIV)

b. Serve Others
“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” ~1 Peter 4:10 (NLT)

c. Financial Giving
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies, "I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” ~Mal 3:10-11 (NLT)

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