Teaching 1: Spiritual Disciplines Introduction
The person we desire to be and the influence we dream of having stems from one word – discipline. Desires and dreams are not enough to cause movement or change in an individual’s life. Discipline nudges the person toward action and following through. The fact of the matter is we need all three.
I believe it is these things that the Holy Spirit uses in our life to help us grow spiritually. Look at the below passage and you can see all three of these elements:
“Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:4-7)
So what do you dream about? What is your desire? What are you disciplining (training) yourself toward?
“Keep [watch over] your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
“train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1Timothy 4:7-8)
This teaching series “The Source” is about growing from the inside out. The way we live in our thoughts, speech, conduct and life all flow from our heart. Applying “Christian morals” to our life without a proper understanding of the gospel will only leave us as religious people standing in judgment of others but still going to hell. In other words, we need a change of our hearts greater than we need a change of behaviors. Therefore, we want (and even more, God wants us) to become people who are transformed by a vision of God’s greatness and grace. This is gospel transformation.
And once this vision is caught, there is still yet an understanding of how this is brought about in one’s life. This enters the discussion of means or tools for transformation. You see, spiritual growth does not randomly or magically happen. “Spiritual formation in Christ in an orderly process. Although God can triumph in disorder, that is not his choice. And instead of focusing upon what God can do, we must humble ourselves to accept the ways he has chosen to work with us. These are clearly laid out in the Bible, and especially in the words and person of Jesus.” These disciplines or tools help us to realize life beyond the status quo; as Jesus said, “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 4:14, 10:10b).
SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES EXPLAINED
- Disciplines are not brownie points. They are not ways to earn God’s acceptance or improving our record with God; God accepts us for what HE’S DONE, not what we do!
Ephesians 2:8-10 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
- Disciplines are not only for elite super-Christians. They are commanded for all followers of Jesus. Disciples of Jesus are those that abide and bear fruit. Those that do not are not really disciples. Yes, as striking as that sounds, this should cause us to evaluate our salvation. There simply are not different levels of Christianity.
John 15:1-8 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples”
- Disciplines help us grow up. They help us appreciate who God is and what he’s done for us. In using them we grow closer to him and live fruit producing lives.
2 Corinthians 3:18 “We all, with unveiled faces, are reflecting the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.” Galatians 5:16 “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
- Disciplines are spiritual tools. God uses spiritual tools to transform our lives to become who He intended us to be.
2 Peter 1:3-11 “3 For His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 4 By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, 6 knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, 7 godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted, and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. 11 For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly supplied to you.
SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES REVIEWED
BIBLE: How to read, observe, analyze and do
MEMORIZATION: For kids and kids at heart
MEDITATION & SILENCE: Hearing the still small voice
PRAYER: Talking to God
FASTING: Hungry for God
ACCOUNTABILITY: What is it, why and how to do it
WORSHIP: God is bigger
STEWARDSHIP: My life’s purpose
DECISION MAKING: Knowing & Doing God’s will
EVANGELISM: Making friends for eternity
ð Why does a discussion on spiritual discipline need to start with a vision of the God’s greatness and grace? (Hint: outward vs. internal change)
ð From the 4 above explanation points on spiritual disciplines, what stands out to you? What did you learn or think should be emphasized?
ð Read the list of spiritual disciplines to be reviewed. Which of these are easy/hard for you? Are there any disciplines missing from this list that you have found helpful?
ð Spend some time praying about your spiritual growth. Do you need to repent? Do you need to make any commitments? Who do you need to ask for help?
 Dallas Williard, Renovation of the Heart. p.10.