Sunday, February 22, 2009
This is the first week in our series on Spiritual Disciplines. In Psalm 42 the psalmist gives this description of his desire for God: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? …Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls.”
There is a lot of superficiality in our culture today, and in our churches. Maybe you have heard the call to something more with God…something deeper. I’d like to take you on a journey with me – a spiritual journey of transformation – using the spiritual disciplines.
It is God’s will that we as Christian believers grow in our walk with God, and in spiritual maturity. There are many names for this: spiritual formation, sanctification, spiritual growth, deeper life, spiritual discipline. No matter what you call it, it is advancing, growing, and dedicating ourselves to God. It is the Lord transforming us into his likeness or image; into the fullness and maturity of Christ.
The Spiritual Disciplines
For thousands of years, believers have used various spiritual disciplines to help them know God better. These disciplines are based on the Bible, and on things that godly men and women, along with Jesus himself, used in their walk with God.
The spiritual disciplines require us to:
- STOP. There are things in our lives, both sins and just plain hindrances, that get in the way of spiritual growth. Hebrews 12:1 says “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us.” We’ve got to slow down, and even stop some things as we engage together in the spiritual disciplines.
- LOOK. The spiritual disciplines make us look inside, and be introspective. As Socrates put it so well: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
- LISTEN. The spiritual disciplines help us to listen to God, and to connect with him.
Purposes of spiritual disciplines
- They are not ways to get on God’s good side, or religious duties or rules that must be performed. Nor are they formulas that automatically make us more spiritual.
- Instead, the spiritual disciplines put us into the position before God so that he can transform us. They open the door for the Spirit’s work in our lives. We prepare ourselves, but God does the work.
- The twin goals are intimacy with God and inner transformation
What are the spiritual disciplines?
- Also known as the classical or ancient disciplines, they include inward disciplines like prayer, meditation, fasting, and study. The outward disciplines include service and simplicity. The corporate disciplines include confession, worship, and celebration.
- So I ask you to join me for the next 7 weeks as we engage ourselves in studying the spiritual disciplines, and in doing them
- Each week I’ll talk about one or two of the disciplines, and then suggest ways that we can engage in them during the week.
- I’m asking you to join me and get involved, but it’s entirely voluntary! This should be a blessing, not a curse or drudgery. I simply want us to see the transformation and growth of our inner, spiritual lives through the power of God’s Spirit.
Ash Wednesday is February 25, and it begins the time known as Lent. This is traditionally a time of preparation and prayer, and sometimes fasting and confession, that helps believers focus on Christ and his work for us. There are three things I’d like to suggest that we all do during Lent:
- Put the spiritual disciplines into practice during the weeks I talk about them
- Give something up…maybe a type of food or a habit
- Read through the four Gospels. You’ll find a reading plan here.
Our goal is to be transformed more and more into his glorious image, and be drawn closer to God.