October 17

Spiritual Disciplines, Part 2

Psalm 100:2 Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing.

Hebrews 4:15-16 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Spiritual disciplines—prayer, meditation, fasting, attending church, reading the Scriptures—help us keep our relationship with God in good working order. Of course, no discipline can create a relationship with God; He has already done that in Christ! Since grace has done away with any need to earn our salvation, there are no brownie points to earn. Spiritual disciplines are simply tools that are a part of cooperating with the Spirit of God on the task of remaking us into what God wants us to be.

There is a tension we need to maintain in being consistent with any spiritual discipline. Keeping up with them has been compared to standing on a narrow ridge with a sheer drop-off on either side. There is the abyss of trust in works on one side and the abyss of faith without deeds on the other. On the ridge is a path, which represents the disciplines of the spiritual life. The path doesn’t produce change, but it places us where the change can occur. We just have to be careful not to slide down either of the sides of error.

We can’t think that anything we do can earn God’s love or even His acceptance. That’s been taken care of by Christ, and for us, in Christ. We do these things because we already have His love, His acceptance, and His attention. We do them because they are avenues of His grace, and because we want to connect with Him in all the manifold ways He has given us.

We live in such a feelings-oriented age that we are in danger of missing our connection with God at times. This can happen when we believe the enemy’s lie that we shouldn’t come before Him unless we can thoroughly, emotionally connect to the experience. This is actually falling down the abyss of works, as we are saying that we have to add the works of our feelings to our simple act of coming before Him. In Hebrews (above), He tells us to come boldly before His throne of grace. So we already have the invitation. The invitation doesn’t contain qualifiers.

Of course it may just be laziness, or a resistance to repentance, or any other reason we don’t take advantage of these ways of connecting with Him. But let it never be that we think we have to feel a certain way first. We have been freed from that lie. We have been made worthy if we are in Christ, and we already have the call. He wants us to come. Let’s always accept the invitation.

Prayer: Father, thank You that I can come before You always. No matter how I feel, or how much or how little I feel it, You are always calling me to Yourself. Forgive me for not fully believing that You’ve made me worthy enough to come into Your presence. Sensitize me to those lies, and strengthen my heart to more deeply believe in what You’ve done for me.

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