When you hear the words, “Spiritual Disciplines,” what comes to your mind? For many, feelings of religious striving start to envelope their thinking. They may have difficulty listing many of the disciplines, but they don’t have trouble experiencing guilt, boredom, dryness or tiredness that the enemy wants to associate with these practices. Maybe it's just the word “Discipline” that sounds odious.
In reality, spiritual disciplines can be an incredible means of accessing God and experiencing His grace. Maybe it is more comfortable for us to call them practices. They are like maps that point us in the direction of God. They help direct our attention toward Him, and they can bring us a sense of closer proximity. Some of the practices that many find helpful relate to the Bible (reading, study and/or meditation); Prayer (silence, stillness, solitude, listening, dialog); Reflection (personal awareness, examination of conscience); ...
Life can and will be difficult. Challenges and hardships that will seem to be beyond your capacity to process, or even endure, are coming your way. This is not a negative fortune or word of prophecy; it is simply a reality of life in this world for everyone - Christians included.
If tough times come - and they will - what will you do, and what will be your focus? You don't have to wait till they fall upon you to develop your approach. As a matter of fact, now is the best time to chart your general course for when the "bad" times hit.
In John 16:32-3, we see one of Jesus's last conversations with His disciples before He was arrested and crucified. He was giving them crucial preparation for facing times of confusion and hardship. He said, "A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may...
We live in a society that is more resourced and privileged than any in history. Yet, that privilege can easily lead to a complaining posture. Wealth can paradoxically lead to an attitude of complaint and discontent.
When we focus on things, we can subtly start to believe that they will bring us happiness, identity or security. Once we have taken that bait, we can be drawn to attach our sense of self to those things and/or the “need” to get or maintain them. When we don’t have them – or when they don’t provide for
us as we thought they would - we become insecure and discontent.
The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6) This statement is like a math equation: Godliness + Contentment = Great Gain. What, however, does it mean?
Walking in God’s ways, in a state of soul-contentment, is Great Gain. The great gain is walking with God in His ways. It is not tied to circumstance or...
“It is for freedom that Christ has set you free!” (Galatians 5:1)
The apostle Paul was convinced that Jesus came to set people free from the bondage of religion. Religion – in this sense – refers to the constant concern about doing things rightly, and the guilt that accompanies falling short on a regular basis.
In Romans Paul wrote, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) “Falling short” is the human condition. And, the consequence/wages of that sinful condition is death – death of our souls, and eternal death.
Unaddressed sin dulls our souls and makes our spirits lifeless. However, we must be reminded again and again and again that “the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
Religion tempts us to try to justify ourselves by our actions or intentions. Freedom in Christ releases us from self-justification, so we can be honest. We don’t need to dig...
What do you do when the world around you – or the world as you know it or like it – starts shaking and feels unstable or threatening? What do you do when there seems to be nowhere to rest or feel safe? What do you do when change is in the air, but you are too tired to rise up and make changes?
We must remind ourselves, and each other, that we are receiving a Kingdom that cannot ever be shaken. (Hebrews 12:28) We are receiving the Kingdom of God; a Kingdom ruled by the Prince of Peace. This Kingdom is beyond tangible. It is not always easy to discern, though it is in our midst, because it is within us! (Luke 17:21) The Kingdom that we are receiving is an awakened awareness of God’s presence and sovereign rule. It’s an awareness of His omnipotence and His lordship over all time and all situations and all outcomes.
When our lives are threatening to fall apart under the seismic pressures and forces around us, we can stop, turn and worship the Lord. In times...
Most of us tend to do whatever we can to get out of the path of adversity. We will try to think our way out of a mess, look for help from others, or pray that God will just make it stop. Additionally, we all experience the constant inundation of advertisers that offers products to relieve and remove our troubles. They promise to give us access to the good life to which we are all “entitled.” If your difficulty is weight, muscle tone, sickness, finance, loneliness, depression, or erectile dysfunction – “We have a product that will take care of that for you.”
God’s ways are often very different from ours. He uses the hurdles and stubborn obstacles of life to deepen us and produce lasting fruit in our lives. Wisdom and character are grown through adversity, not through escape. There is no product that you can buy that will give you the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) or understanding of the ways of God. These are only forged...
Most of us who come to Christ do so when we are facing difficult times. We come when we are in great need. We are hoping for change in our circumstances and/or within ourselves.
Why don’t we often come to God when we are in a “good space”? It’s probably because, when things are going well, we tend to be content in our self-reliance. We call out to God when relying on ourselves isn’t working anymore.
Life can still be tough – even when do we rely on God. The apostle Paul encourages those who are living in Christ, “Not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
Why would people who have learned to rely on Christ become weary in doing the right things? It’s because we all are prone to lose focus.
Jesus said that in the last days the love of most people will grow cold. Is your love cold or hot
with the presence and purposes of God? Real love is focused and intentional. It is focused on
another or others. It is intentional in that it is expressed – it is an active verb. You can tell if you
are expressing this kind of love, they will experience it and others will see it. Real love is
demonstrative. Its deepest source and inspiration comes from God.
“God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Love is the expression of His essence – and it is His motivation for
creation. His creation expresses His love and shares His love. As we experience love, walk in
love and act lovingly, we bare His image in this world. Let’s look at three clear, yet counter-
cultural expressions of love. This kind of love is a prophetic sign in our day. It points to a
greater source and purpose than ourselves.
“Be devoted to one another...