28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature inChrist.
29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
The Next Step, which is the second on this topic is SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES
Turning my inner person to God and giving time, over the years many have used different names to call for this process such as “Devotional time” or “Quiet Times”. Some even have seen liberty as a reason to be free form a discipline and used the thinking not to develop the intimate times with God. Let me say from the onset without developing these regular, intimate moments with God one will not advance, neither is it a religious action but a real love, developing an adventure of hearing the Father.
The natural progression of fellowship leads you to a disciplined development of intimacy through spending times away, aside with God, the Psalmist said evening and morning he did it, quiet times. Now all our faith is learning that the Father wants responsive followers, not people living by the letter of the law, so this ‘quiet time’ is not a duty but an outflow of deep thanks, manifest in time given to be intimate, never due but an appreciation and response. As for me, if I do not create these moments I feel starved and hungry. My children, when younger, would say it was evident in my ways or life’s conduct towards them if I had neglected that time with the Father. Let me re state it again although daily times when followed as routine or obligation have been discredited as legalistic, it is nevertheless true that the absence of seasons of quietness with God will eventually lead to poverty of soul and vulnerability.
Again, looking back over the years I see the practice of a daily time of meditation as one of the greatest strengths in the development of my spiritual life. I look upon it not as a time to get something to say or preach but a conversation between me and the Godhead for us together. For these times to be seen as necessary as eating, taking in nourishment to the body so these times of discipline are to my whole being. Over the years I have looked upon it as times of just filling up a kit bag for a long journey, storing insights, Holy Spirit utterances and directions, never knowing when or what the Holy Spirit will draw from that resource we placed into the kit bag for life some time ago. For the Father to mould me more and more into Gods image. Although in recent years I have modified my approach, I remain convinced they were vital to fellowship with God.
The reading and marking of the Word of God
God’s life works powerfully in those who love the Word. It reads, speaks, grips and provokes you. There is so much that the word of God does in you that nothing else could – preachers could never produce what the Spirit does through the Word. It is this opening of my life and mind to its truth and challenges that has proved indispensable to personal development.
I turn to the word of God as I turn to a person knowing that this person wants to talk with me, I love 1 Cor 2:9, 10 that says for me, God is searching God, to bring out the deep things of God to show and present them to me. Therefore every time I turn to word it is an adventure and excitement, I feel the thrill, what about you, revelations come when we do, honestly, try it is a promise.
I read the Word simply, in an attitude of faith. I don’t look for it’s difficulties or problems, I don’t concern myself with the arguments of author ship or authenticity of historical detail. I first read the Word to let it read me. I take what is obvious from the surface, apply that and rejoice in it. My marking system – underlining etc., reinforces its impact on my mind. Today I have hundreds of notes daily devotions in my computer stored for either me or some one else in later years may wish to mull over them.
When studying the Word more earnestly for a given purpose, I give myself to research as to the authorship, the background of the principal parties concerned. The circumstances of the nation at the time, the issues that are primarily being addressed etc. But my first approach to the Word is to get to know God by allowing its revelation to minister to my life. It is God the Father making known his nature, it is the ever arriving God, a self-reveling Father eager to make known to reward and give gifts. Choice of emotions?????? this is not what you are considering….
Step Three – You CHOICE OF FRIENDS is vital to ongoing spiritual progress.
It was the awareness of this that made me face up to my first series of difficult choices. These were to affect my relationship with my former friends in the world.
Their way of life was now so different from my own. I had witnessed effectively amongst them to the point where those open to Christ and change had already been converted. Finally I was faced with the difficult choice concerning those who had no intention of changing. I became convinced that continued companionship with some of them would eventually lead to the compromising of spiritual values, and that meanwhile I would be under constant pressure to conform to their behaviour and activities.
From early days I had to make the decision, I recall some who helped me, that after deciding to follow Christ they used to cross the road directly in front of me, in order not to entertain meeting me, once passed they would cross back to the original side, it was challenging at the time as we all like being wanted or liked but then it helped me to see choices in relationships are so important. Let me add a caveat, it is not rejection or exclusivity we cannot do that in the gospel of the Kingdom, we are not to be exclusive, the Kingdom of God makes us at every hand inclusive and I must demonstrate that, it is just knowing where and how I grow through the relationships around me, while accepting and loving every one.
Then there were the “carnal Christians”, not sure what that means any longer some times? You understand those who seek their own, those who have themselves at their centre only, those who are looking to add the things of the present to themselves for positions or stature, not seeking the Kingdom of God as predominant view. I met many in my early experience. It became clear to me that continued company with these would prove almost as damaging. Fellowship was based upon the sharing of discontent, mutual grumbles, ill-feeling, gossip, argument, contentious discussions and soulish issues such as “preacher for lunch”, and “destructive sermon analysis”, running people l down in the light of “being honest”, being divisive and colouring my view of others, Inflicting their personal agenda on people
Alternatively, there was the prospect of companionship with those whose heart was towards God. Who loved God as I loved the Father, who were intent on making progress in their spiritual lives while pursuing their destiny.
I decided these were the companions I should cultivate, for their fellowship would help sharpen my spiritual insights and provoke me towards maturity.
I am told which I am sure its true that less is best for a blog although I don’t know how to lean this or better still practice the lesson today however I am going to head the encouragement allowing you to mull my comments on adding and advancing your journey into God.
I pray that you will develop deeper in 2013 your Spiritual Discipline along with wisdom, not emotion in your choice of friends while recalling Part One of “To this end…” with developing that fellowship with God who is eager for the relationship.
Happy journeys into Christ, great adventures of the Holy Spirit and deeper into God in 2013