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Spiritual Discipline

"But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself rather to godliness.  For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come." (1Timothy 4:6-8)

Every year, people across the country make commitments in an attempt to live healthier, happier, more productive lives. We call these commitments "resolutions."  Among some of the most common resolutions are the commitment to lose weight, exercise or quit smoking.  These changes take discipline that the Webster dictionary defines as a "training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character."  As Timothy says, "bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things..." (1Timothy 4:8).

Throughout the year, many of us find ourselves reflecting on our spiritual lives.  We may be thinking, "I don't find much time to pray..." or "I never make quiet time just to be before the Lord."  Many Christians plan to "read the Bible in one year" but find that they did not even make it through Genesis.  It is not long before the sought after "spiritual practice" becomes a burden of guilt and failure.  The Bible calls Satan the accuser and, as such, he is continuously before us pointing out our shortcomings, causing us to become discouraged and give up. 

What is Spiritual Discipline?  Spiritual discipline is the habit we develop that helps us keep God in the forefront of our thoughts.  It is what helps me stay connected when my desire dwindles and my "to-do" list shouts.  Spiritual disciplines are not about trying to get God's attention but about training ourselves to pay attention to Him.  They are any intentional practice that turn our hearts toward God, deepen our relationship with Him and transform us to be more Christ-like.  Such practice takes discipline.  Meditating on God's Word, taking time out during a walk to praise the Creator, or holding your tongue from a harsh word are practices that help us to walk humbly before our God, growing in the image of Christ.

We are commanded to love God with "all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30).  It is not just a nice thing to love and serve God, the Bible says it is a commandment.  Discipline helps us pay attention to the Holy Spirit and to become more attentive to His voice.  In doing so, we become more apt to respond in obedience.  Galatians 5:16 says, "I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh," it is how we stay connected. 

There is joy in becoming spiritually disciplined.  Disciplines help draw us near to God.  They build Godly character and help us avoid that which pulls us away from Him.  As we develop these Godly habits, we reap the fruit of a deepened intimacy with God and a spirit, growing in life and peace (Romans 8:6).  Along with the joy, comes freedom in embracing a spiritually disciplined life as our focus shifts from "self-centered" to "God-centered."  So, why not embrace a Spirit-filled pursuit of Godliness with the "promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come." (1Timothy 4:6-8)

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